INTERVIEW

“Stupid people are still angered by the 2001 phrase “”New Rock Revolution””, but to the enlightened few it brings forth a wave of nostalgia of a time when every new band was good, and every good band was new. Then somewhere along the line everyone got confused and thought that these bands were good because […]

“Stupid people are still angered by the 2001 phrase “”New Rock Revolution””, but to the enlightened few it brings forth a wave of nostalgia of a time when every new band was good, and every good band was new. Then somewhere along the line everyone got confused and thought that these bands were good because they were new, forgetting that in actual fact most old music is simply better than that attempted by young pretenders. The desperate production line of new bands was gradually worked into overdrive. And so to Elephant And Castle to see two so-called “hot new bands” and to surely leave feeling empty and unfulfilled. Except that’s not quite what happens this evening.

The Black Lips come from Atlanta, Georgia and sound like
the New Rock Revolution was never put-to-bed. And if they embody the spirit of this previous age it’s because it’s when they formed (2000) and should have risen to prominence in the UK. They didn’t but they’re here now and we should be thankful.

Perhaps it’s the mystique of being from across the Atlantic (which at the altitude of the current toilet-circuit is surprisingly rare), but The Black Lips are displaced and out of sync with the present. Not in a far flung way, but as if they spent the last 5 years doing their own thing and now they want to bring us in on the secret.

They are immature in a way only a well-oiled party band can be, complete with a reputation for spilt bodily fluids but devoid of that sticky desperation that clings to most struggling in town bands: they are unpretentiously fun, veering dangerously toward bouncy and will steal a smile from all but the most determined shoe-gazer. So if the Black Lips turn up to play at your house party be grateful, because even if they do shit on your carpet they’ve probably cleaned messier stains before. They would have been crowned the saviours of music in 2001, which is exactly what 2007 needs. There is probably only room for one band like them so it’s fortunate that These New Puritans are very, very different.

The first thing to say is that These New Puritans are deeply rooted in high fashion, which is not necessarily a bad thing, even if for musical puritans, fashion and music are dangerous bedfellows. Whereas the fashion industry stakes its relevance on the quality of its reprocessing, musicians have to pretend to be trying something new. These New Puritans are a mix of both attitudes.

It would be easy on one hand to list the things they’re trying to copy, labelling them skilful revivalists of long forgotten post-punk slacks, cuts and tailoring. But that would be wrong, because though nearly the case, they do offer something more than just stitch-perfect style. They play like they’re carrying the weight of unachieved greatness on their shoulders that, through an intricate and rare balance of substance and style, may actually come to pass. At an uncommon level of intelligence they have brought just enough new ideas to the table that are clearly attempting to rip their musical influences apart. It makes them gut-wrenchingly exciting to watch.

As a live band they may play as tight as their buttoned up collars and look as miserable as Ian Curtis on a comedown, and yet there is still urgency underneath, which occasionally spills out with devastating punch. They stumble between the indecipherable and the crystal clear both musically and lyrically, impressing and confusing in equal measures. I’m not sure I enjoyed all of it, but I don’t think that was the point.

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