Strangetown Records (label)
07 August 2020 (released)
Now, Welsh band El Goodo (named after the Big Star song) return from the hinterlands with only their fourth album in twenty years, ‘Zombie’ produced by ex-Julian Cope/Spiritualized member Thighpaulsandra.
Continuing their habit of naming their releases after animals (2009’s ‘Coyote’, 2017’s widely-acclaimed ‘By Order of the Moose’) this album is in memoriam of producer Thighpaulsandra’s dearly departed dog. This 13-track long player addresses old themes such as life/death/new life and the passing, passages and ravages of time in fresh forms.
Throughout the album is a broad retrospective delve into a hazy 1960s hued past, from technicoloured happy-sadness (‘In a daze one Sunday morning’ has the Morrissey-like sigh-cries of ‘No one loves me …. No one needs me’) to countrified coded-odes (‘You let me down’) and the blues-derived woe-is-me ‘The Baneswell Blues’.
Both ‘Things turn around’ and ‘The Grey Tower’ deal of chasing hope in a world of hopelessness and realising ‘what’s the point? Both are set to such upbeat music that the downcast lyrics take on a deeper resonance. The former is a Harvest-era Neil Young tale as vocalist Pixy Jones despairs ‘After a while, it’ll decline so I just leave’. The latter splices post-mop-topped psych-tripped Beatles with a Morricone-looped spaghetti western feel with Jones bemoaning the deadbeat drudgery of the day job that makes that time wasted a dull pursuit: the refrain ‘If I’m dying while I’m living …’ gives further meaning to the album’s title.
The expansive ‘I can’t leave’ (with a hint of The Zombies ‘She’s not there’) features a sonic-slice of rocklore; the rare Univox early synth used by Joe Meek in the recording of his 1962 space-age-frontier-pushing ‘Telstar’. Its futuristic effects render the button-pressing, screen-swiping present lacking in wonder and mystery.
‘Home’ has the jaunty mania of The Monkees’s ‘What am I doing hanging round?’. The Welsh-lingo ‘Fi N Flin (I am sorry)’ is the theme for a cartoon series yet to be imagined, it’s breezy feel nods to compatriots and former touring partners the equally AWOL Super Furry Animals (SFA’s Cian Ciarán and Dafydd Ieuan are behind the Strangetown record label).
‘It sounds good to me, man’ evokes the coordinated hap-jazzard carouseling sounds of early 60s instrumentalists Sounds Incorporated and The Tornadoes (both staples in the Meek stable). Quality analogue-a-rhythms.