Saturday, 27 June 2015

Fireworks Night - As Fools We Are: Annihilator - Metal: Vincent Vincent and the Villains @ ABC2

Fireworks Night - As Fools We Are
Album Review
As Fools We Are boasts delicate arrangements, sensitive instrumentation and a creative use of modern and traditional sounds. However, in James Leslie, they have a vocalist who appears to carry ambitions beyond his ability. 

In opener Favours For Favours he barely holds the notes - by Dirty Acts Done Publicly he scales heights of pretension that would make Jim Morrison blush. His sensitivity is tentative, his passion seems contrived and even the whimsical support of Briony Greenhill can't stop him ruining the subtle crescendos and full-bodied attacks of superb musicians. 

The words are hackneyed romanticism, and Leslie is as inept in seduction as in melodrama. His orchestration is eclectic, and the band is at home with melancholy and fiery passion: unfortunately, the front-man has all the polish of the washed-up music hall he attempts to evoke. A valiant escape from mundane guitar rock, but the band will remain also rans for as long as Leslie plays out his torch singer fantasies.

Annihilator - Metal
Album Review
Spanning every emotion from serious showing off through to illegal exhibitionism.
To be fair, this album doesn't get completely potty until track three. Essentially a list of Annihilator's favourite bands (guess what - they're all old-fashioned metal), Army of One features the singalong chorus 'we are the army of one'. 

Metal (the title ensures Annihilator aren't mistaken for soul revivalists) has more paranoia than an SWP meeting, guitar solos spanning every emotion from serious showing off through to illegal exhibitionism and riffs dusted off from when Metallica were proper hard. The appearance of so many guest musicians - no doubt intended to show metal solidarity - suggests that an entire scene exists of pre-pubescent tantrum mongers. 

The lyrics are beautifully defensive - moaning about how much integrity it takes to make this music whilst mining the rhyming dictionary - sung in that special voice that must damage the throat. Apart from a slow bit on Haunted and a comedy voice-over on Smothered (which accuses the band of wasting their lives), the band are completely dedicated to the dated template of shouting about despair and playing fast. It could, of course, be Goldie Looking Chain in disguise.

Vincent Vincent and the Villains @ ABC2
Live Review
A star turn, turning competent revivalism into toe-tapping fun.
To hear Vincent Vincent and the Villains is to wonder why bands can't keep it simple. A basic rockabilly format, rousing choruses and the occasional detour into moody verses: Vince is as catchy as Franz Ferdinand, only a step away from sheer nostalgia. 

Even against headliners Good Shoes and their perfect indie pop, Vincent is a star turn, turning competent revivalism into toe-tapping fun. Johnny Two Bands is sunshine-filled mockery of a rival musician; Seven Inch Record a darker strut celebrating vinyl. Never venturing beyond a rock'n'roll template, The Villains execute perfect takes on past glories. 

Taking few risks, they emphasise the debt of modern music to skiffle and put across playful lyrics with clarity and humour. In less skillful hands, this could be mere tribute to a golden past. As it is, Vincent Vincent is as cheery as his name, and a relevant reminder of the joy of simplicity.

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