British band Late of the Pier, fronted by singer Samuel Eastgate, started out
as yet another outfit of dance-punk music, the vogue of the mid-2000s.
After a trio of 2007 and early 2008 singles
(Space and the Woods/ Heartbeat,
Bathroom Gurgle/ VW, The Bears are Coming), their album
Fantasy Black Channel (Parlophone, 2008) turned them into
the "next big thing" du jour.
Space And The Woods still displayed the pretentious attitude of
all "futurist" groups, using eletronic keyboards and vocals in a
menacing and robotic fashion, the very idea behind
Devo in the late 1970s.
Heartbeat was actually more "futuristic" with its neurotic, aggressive
stance, wrapped around a loud electronic melody.
However, the seven-minute Bathroom Gurgle ran the gamut from
David Bowie's existential ballad to
rock'n'roll seizure (with an acoustic Syd Barrett-ian coda).
The instrumental VW wed the hysterical verve Devo
with the space-lounge music of Stereolab.
And The Bears Are Coming greatly expanded the idea by adopting African polyrhythms, rap-infected chanting and a sudden cabaret-like mood shift.
The new songs compare favorably with the early singles.
The rhythm of Broken is bouncy and syncopated like a ska jig,
its refrain is catchy and slightly demented, and the instrumental arrangements
vary throughout the song from harpsichord-like electronics to
nostalgic organ and to hard-rock guitar. The formula is easy enough.
The silly synth-pop ditty Random Firl and the
frenzied galloping punk-rock of Whitesnake are exhilarating.
The main disappointment comes with the six-minute
The Enemy Are The Future, a sort of progressive-techno suite that
doesn't quite coalesce and perhaps reveals the limits of the band.
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