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The Tories: Upside of Down

Kevin Mathews

The Tories

Upside of Down

Label: 02
US Release Date: 2001-02-13

You may have heard the music of the Tories without having heard OF them. Anyone vaguely familiar with the Christina (Married With Children) Applegate TV sitcom vehicle Jesse would most certainly take notice of the jubilant theme song, "Time For You". And yes, The Tories are responsible for that infectious tune. Which I suppose begs the questions -- why is the idiot box able to showcase better music than the radio (other cases in point -- the Rembrandts on Friends, Alabama 3 on The Sopranos and They Might Be Giants on Malcolm in the Middle) and why aren't The Tories bigger than the slew of mediocre identikit guitar bands out there in the modern rock wasteland?

Truth of the matter is, The Tories have never had the luxury of major label support. Their first album -- Wonderful Life -- was released by producer Phil Ramone's N2D label and its follow-up, Upside of Down is issued on the band's own 02 Records. Which, presumably, brings the importance of a high profile tune like "Time For You" into sharp focus.

Branding themselves "alternative/pop", The Tories have taken a side step from the joyous powerpop methodology that characterised their acclaimed debut and evoked the pure pop allure of Jellyfish, XTC, Redd Kross and Weezer. Oh the high-octane melodies and harmonies are still in evidence -- check out the dynamic "Would You Notice", "Greatest Foe", "Superconductor" and "Everything Keeps Coming Up To You".

However, there appears to be an overall heavier, sobering outlook that permeates the bulk of Upside of Down, which reflect the collective experiences of the band leading up to this moment in time. Musically, there seems to be a nod in the direction of the current British rock scene where the emotive haunting resonance of bands like Radiohead, Travis, Coldplay and Muse hold sway.

"Come Unglued" -- a study of a broken relationship highlighted by a poignant string-backed query, "Do you know how bad I feel inside because of you"; "Point of View" -- a plaintive cry of regret expressed in cold robotic electronic tones, the title track -- an intriguing declaration of being lost and found in faith and "All the World's For Sale" -- a diatribe against greed and avarice framed by folky acoustic guitar, these songs exemplify The Tories' coming of age.

There is much to admire about The Tories' determination to confront the music industry on their own terms, both artistically and commercially. Let's hope they succeed, for all our sakes.

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