Pagan Wanderer Lu - The Independent Scrutineer

Matt Harrold 13/12/2006

Rating: 5/5

Andrew Regan, AKA Pagan Wanderer Lu, has been something of a busy bunny, having released two albums and nearly a dozen Eps including his latest 'The Independent Scrutineer' since 2001. Some bands have trouble releasing even one album in a five year period let alone that much material. Not only is Pagan Wanderer Lu a profuse song-smith of DIY bedroom music, he's also managed to retain a surprising amount of creative edge. Giving you hope that the good ship Britannia will continue to sail on without running aground upon barren sandbanks, formed from the dead corpses of a million Libertine and Arctic Monkey wannabes. Maybe ransacking pawnshops and Sunday morning car boot sales for second hand instruments, old second hand keyboards and amps with the distort dial missing, is the key.

Possibly but none the less it leads to some of the finest lo-fi pop to grace a record player since The Postal Service's 'Such Great Heights'. Indeed, for 'The Independent Scrutineer' at times comes across as a scuzzier version. Folk meets garage guitar whilst the bastardised electronica of a million disused game boys finds it's reincarnation, melding together with casio keyboards to birth back beats, beeps and loops. The likes of which leaves you feeling that if only Clor had half the ideas present here they might of made a much better album then their self titled and might still be going.

Opener, The Memorial Hall starts out like Pink Floyd's own 'The Fletcher Memorial Home', a slow military style drum beat over sombre synths loaning Pagan Wanderer Lu's political musing of the war on terror some gravity. That is before mutating into discos beat worthy of any Indie dance floor whilst wry humour coupled with quirky observations flies thick and fast “Supporting the troops versus not in my name/If someone gets bored change the subject//before I explain how they can be same”, sings Andrew Regan with his tongue firmly planted in cheek. Kazoo's make an appearance on the NHS inspired 'Our New Hospital Sucks' with a primal Joy Division inspired bass line providing a suitably dark undertow as Regan laments “This one's architecturally innovative/But the design has cost them five million quid”. The National Health deficit has never been so tactfully explained, till now that is.

'Repetition 2' is a reminder of a long hot summer gone to chase away those winter blues before Andrew Regan tears things up, using the sound of tapes speeding up and slowing down to disjoint the guitar rifting at the end of the song. 'Repetition 1' is a softer affair further down the Ep, at points conjuring Adem's folk melancholy. Finishing track 'Knight  King 4' is possibly the only track in existence to mix chess metaphors with crucifixion whilst musing over the nature of love, fragile mortality and death. Till the song gallops forward to it's own conclusion and that of the EP itself. If every there was a slice of music to show off the British talent for making eccentric and heart warming music then 'The Independent Scrutineer' would be it. Do yourself a favour and Scrutinise it yourself.

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