The Indelicates - American Demo
George Bass 13/04/2008
The temptation is to write a novel, to pick apart every inch of stitching till your fingers sting with a Meccano cystitis. When any debut LP is as rewardingly consistent as The Indelicates' American Demo, you're almost reminded of your virgin dip into Album #1, the world on pause as you sat patiently hooked to a cycle of sonic adventure. Julia Clark-Lowes and Simon Clayton, the two frontpersons of the five-strong alternative act, have swooned a bevy of bloggers since their 2005 inception, reeling in listeners by the district with their teeth-gnashing indie and piano laments. It's almost something of a relief, then, that their first long-player breaks none of the promises they've spent the last three years making, and feels more easy on the ears than a pack of porn-voiced cotton buds. In nearly every sense of the word, this is a record that's been made for the fans.
At fifty-four minutes and fourteen tracks, American Demo might smell like most other machined poprock, but behind the seven-inch farmabilty of its outlay there's deep things stirring, deeper even than your average post-rock gatefold. Clayton's stint in the light on Better To Know mixes pop and politics like Billy Bragg with a swizzle stick, while the pained duet of Heroin skooshes along on a swell of keys, all deep and lovely like the burnt nirvana of its title. Don't let that fool you into believing this is a bedroom agoraphobia CD, though - the band like to strut their stuff for every minute they spend writing their memoirs. The Last Significant Statement To Be Made In Rock 'n Roll is a tune that attacks the private graph approach to communal listening: the point after which all music is ranked in reverse degrees of futility, the sky having fallen in now you've been dumped. On the other hand, Sixteen is possibly the chirpiest moment on the whole album; a rose-tined knees-up in honour of hormonal posing. 'We just wanna be sixteen/Even though we're twenty-three', exclaims Julia at the peak of the chorus, her words fished from the same thinktank that made James Murphy yearn for teendom on Sound Of Silver. Then you thinktank again.
Three surnames between two people hint at a heavy deskwork heritage, and Clark-Lowes and Clayton aren't averse to mixing some history into their saw-tooth orchestrals, like the Delgados copied onto parchment. Unity Mitford is Julia's wry ode to Hitler's bit on the side; the British one with the bulletproof noggin who wasn't the Queeny Mum. The fluttery obsession of the POV lyrics hide behind Stephan Wöhrmann piano before the track erupts in a haze of Britpop. Solemn shit indeed. Clayton is similarly obliged to acknowledge his own influences, and ...If Jeff Buckley Had Lived is a what-if epitaph that's a lot more affecting than its title suggests, painting a rock star fade for the Mystery White Boy if someone had thrown him a float. Their more original material houses the real goodies, though, and so it's their signature jingle New Art For The People that's written in triplicate across the album's bookends. A song that examines how love can bite you like a pit bull after a whiff of baby powder, it's a raw monolith that's lost none of its veracity in the jump from the stage to the studio, and has already had critics fawning like PAs at a staff Christmas do. Decypher it at your peril.
It seems slightly premature to dub The Indelicates the new Real McCoy; they plump passionately for their salt-of-the-earth outlook alright, but you do get the feeling that the only vans these kids have slogged in are black ones with pink laces. That said, they show steel in their commitment to tackling 'the brand', apparently even toying with the idea of calling this record Mohammed. If that were to cause some kind of gelignite backlash and the followers get nuked mid-playback, at least they can say they went out learning. It might not be the absolute last significant statement to be made in rock 'n roll, but it's definitely on the podium with a medal round its neck, beaming brightly as the balloons get released.