Ahh. . .the kooky British and their orgasmic hype. Will they ever stop? Let’s hope not, at least for the sake of interest and variety in the average American music collection. But their track record for this sort of thing is odd. The same blokes who brought us the cosmic rush of Oasis, Radiohead, and Blur, have also given us the subtle tickle of Gomez, The Bluetones, and Kula Shaker. Granted, they are all choice slices of cockney pie, but the phenomenal build up which has carried all of these acts to U.S. shores has as much power in building their regime as destroying it. These bands all share, arguably, enormous talent, arrogance, diversity, and creativity. But stop someone on the street and ask them to name a song from The Bluetones, or the man behind the enrapturing vocal growl in Gomez, and watch them squirm. (Editor’s note: Actually I could probably sing the entire first Bluetones album for you, but that’s just me, Britpop fanatic). Ask the same person which Gallagher brother has the more disgusting uni-brow and you’ve got stimulating political conversation. There’s a startling difference in the notoriety of these bands, which is as proportional to their talent and radio exposure as it is to the over- or under- abundance of time and money the British spend on selling us on them. Enter Gay Dad, trotting in on the worthy heels of Gomez, or the Beta Band, and figure out where they go. They’ve got the hype, the balls, the skills. But does it work? Will it make an impact on American soil? Come, sit on the fence with me. It’s quite enjoyable.
First of all, Leisure Noise is no OK Computer. Or What’s the Story Morning Glory? But that’s OK. We silly Americans have had that, been there. What it is more like, however, is Supergrass’ In It For the Money, a loud, full tilt multi-layered rock affair, with numbing guitars, raw vocals, and pop melodies. But it also has, for better or worse, a voice that stands alone. Not to mention a balancing act of pros and cons. There are moments of sheer inspiration. There are moments of waste. There are song titles that conjure religion (“Dimstar,” “Jesus Christ”), Huckleberry Finn (“Oh Jim”), a Hallmark card at Christmas (“Joy!”), James Bond flicks (“To Earth with Love”), and an NBC news show (“Dateline”). There are soft ballads and arena stompers. There are funeral conversation level whispers and side-splitting ceiling high falsettos. All in all, it’s quite an interesting mess.
Which isn’t to say it’s an astonishing one. What happens in the progression from the stale pop-rock of the opening “Dimstar” to the pleasant, loungy Verve-esque swing of the closing “Jesus Christ” is almost mind boggling. Everything in between is somehow as startlingly incongruous as it is pleasantly similar. “Joy” begins like a Space song, before diving into a tailor made Supergrass chorus. “Oh Jim” is the plaintive acoustic track (again, with the Verve-esque), but is followed by the silly pop narrative of “My Son Mystic.” It’s annoying and intriguing. So what to do? Keep on listening and wait until the next big band comes along and Gay Dad breaks up? Maybe. Cherish it, buy all the singles and start up a web site devoted to them? Sure.
But try it out. While it’s not revolutionary or ground-breaking, Leisure Noise is nothing to toss away. It has its moments. But like most British music, you’ve heard it before, and you’ve never heard anything like it. It’s just a matter of whether or not you like it. Or want to buy the hype.
// Notes from the Road
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