The B Of The Bang - Beginning Middle End
Richard Wink 22/07/2009
I'm assuming The B of the Bang take their name from the hideous looking Mancunian sculpture that earlier this year got dismantled. There is a certain amount of mystery that surrounds the collective, led by a multi instrumentalist known as Wit, a man whose voice sounds like a cross between Snow Patrol's Guy Lightbody and Roddy Woomble.
It is fair to say that Wit is not the greatest lyricist; it would perhaps be cruel to refer to his lyrics as embarrassing, but the couplets are certainly cringe worthy rather than clever. Lyrics in this case matter not (apart from on 'Little Bean' but we shall address this matter soon enough), for it is the strength of composition that allows Beginning Middle End to scale impressive heights.
Everything on the album is big, epic, cathedral filling. from 'Alaska' where Wit's voice sounds desolate, the drums remind me a little of the drums in Arcade Fire's 'Rebellion (Lies)' before reaching a crescendo, the song suddenly breaks out like a mournful sunflower and dazzles bombastically. 'Alfred, Light the Fires' is bouncier in tone and sets up the contemplative nature of 'Lung', which again strives for greatness, arms aloft in a Christ like pose. It is the kind of song that bridges the gap between being genuinely earnest and heartwarming and going the other way altogether, appearing emotionally awkward.
'The Making of the Making of' is a stripped back minimalist effort; you can hear the timid xylophone in the distance, though the change of pace is welcome after the epic opening. Lulling somewhat 'Little Bean' begins to sound quite moth-eaten before rocking out, unfortunately the lyrical atrocities committed on this song are unforgiveable “I'm a little bean / no one noticed me”. I dare you to get through the second half of the song without bursting into hysterics. 'Delores' again proves that like with Paul Banks from Interpol, you've got to ignore the words and concentrate on the music “Delores you said you would never ignore us”. It gets worse when Delores is rhymed with thesaurus.
'Desire Lines' is one of the more delightful moments of Beginning Middle End with Wit duetting with Jessica from Hall of Mirrors. '(We used to Draw) Treasure Maps' sounds like it was recorded on a rickety ship languishing in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, you can almost imagine it being composed under the calming influence of rum at night, with kerosene lamps flickering as the waves rock the vessel, building up before the perfect storm.
There are a couple of obvious faults with Beginning Middle End, I'm still caught in two minds as to whether the woeful lyrics harm a few of the songs on this album, certainly one or two become comical in spite of the relatively serious tone of the album, the album also peters out, dramatically losing steam in its final quarter, 'A New Road' that draws a curtain over proceedings is cluttered and structured similarly to some of the earlier songs, the quiet, tentative opening, before exploding into life. I'd go as far as saying that this is an encouraging debut, but there is a lack of attention to detail that prevents this album from becoming potentially brilliant.