Release Date: 15th June 2018
Label: Provogue / Mascot Label Records
Big Boy Bloater – guitar \ lead vocals
Matt Cowley – drums \ percussion \ vocals
Steve Oates – bass \ vocals
Keyboards – mostly Larry Stern
Backing Vocals are Carly Greene
“Plus some funky shit we did to the bass in post production!”
2. Friday Night’s Alright For Drinking
3. The Saturday Night Desperation Shuffle
4. Stop Stringing Me Along
5. Unnaturally Charming
6. Slacker’s Paradise
7. Mouse Organ
8. Oops Sorry
9. She Didn’t Even Buy A Ticket
10. This Ain’t Rufus
11. The Digital Number Of The Beast
12. A Life Full Of Debt
Following the rather excellent ‘Luxury Hobo’ was always going to be something of a challenge. Perfectly mixing classic blues, humour and a healthy slice of louisiana swamp, the resulting album was quite a revelation. It was a blues album for non-Blues fans. People that were tired of hearing how an artist’s wife had left them taking all of their possessions including the faithful dog were now treated to lyrical content that suggested the wife was probably now six feet under in the backyard and the dog was running around without a care in the world. Upbeat blues music, we’ll take that thank you very much!
Thankfully ‘Pills’ continues in the same vein. The songs, whilst broadly treading the blues template defined over many decades, all feel uniquely individual, each telling a short story all of their own.The music covers multiple eras and even pays homage at times to Shadows era Hank Marvin’s wonderful guitar work.
It would be easy to write a review track by track such is the wealth of content in the lyrics but to keep this concise, the songs cover everything from the 101 different types of pills we take for ailments or even the ones that help improve ‘performance’ in a gentleman to drinking on a friday night, trying to pull in nightclubs on a Saturday, all the way through to the typical ‘relationship’ problems faced by everyone. ‘Stop Stringing Me Along’ looks at the cowboy agents that keep artists hanging on for that promised ‘big break’ whereas ‘Oops Sorry’ is a great apology for being the one that ruined a relationship. The latter is crying out for a live duet with Chas and Dave at some point. It’s one of those perfect ‘press repeat’ moments, a real mix of blues, humour and old school rock ‘n’ roll.
Every track offers something slightly different musically as well. The blues angle obviously hovers in the background but we’ve got dashes of country in there ‘Stop Stringing Me Along’, pub rock with ‘Oops Sorry’, 70s rock elements thanks to the inclusion of female backing vocals and some great keyboard work ‘Unnaturally Charming’, the summer breeze of ‘Slacker’s Paradise’ and the New Orleans vibe of ‘Mouse Organ’ that feels like it’s being played in the darkest of underground venues.
The humour really works well. This isn’t a comedy record but it is a knowing record. It’s aware, conscious of what affects us in day to day life and the natural way humans deal with whatever is thrown at us.
“I’ll take the dog, you keep the kid and I know you got a little bit of money hid.
You keep that , don’t you worry about me…
You can bin those photos of our wedding day, they weren’t that good anyway,
Let’s start fresh, babe what you cryin’ for?”
If only all divorces \ separations could be dealt with so easily. When it still doesn’t work out easily, then the solution to mend a broken heart is a simple one:
“Oops sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you,
Give it some time, you’ll be fine in a day or two.
Oops sorry, I didn’t mean to break your heart in two,
You can stick it back together with a little bit of gaffer tape and superglue.”
Of course, some of the terminology might surprise and confuse people who’ve grown up outside of the UK. I can’t imagine the deep south has any idea what gaffer tape is (think duct tape!) and there are other similar instances where people in the UK will crack a knowing smile whilst others may be completely baffled.
The music and playing is what counts here and that is universal. Well played, well executed and hugely entertaining.
Review by Adrian Hextall