Album Review – Feral Pop Frenzy by Even as we Speak (1993) (Label: Sarah Records)

Do you remember those old personal CD players from mid-90’s? You know the monstrosities that seemed to make it their personal mission to chow more batteries per hour than an iPhone with 42 apps constantly open does (Ooooh hark at me getting down with the techno-kids and talking ‘apps’ and stuff…I will work out how to use whatisup next instead of text).

These infernal gadgets also presented the added conundrum of being the size of a CD + a ‘very lot’ and were therefore completely unable to fit into the pocket of any natural sized person. They also used to delight the listener to added pops and whistles to enhance the musical experience or jump, screech and whistle if ever your movement threatened to go above ‘Volvo driving pensioner’ speed.

It was on this special device that I spent a few days listening to my new Even as We Speak CD as I journeyed with lots of grumpy, hackneyed, grey, London types on my daily commute. It was very clear from the outset that this was not going to be an ordinary listen when just the second track  interrupted the beautiful voice of Mary Wyver with an angry Japanese chap grumbling about his alcoholism. Strange…

In fact there were lots of times where I could not really decipher whether the music was supposed to be ‘like that’ or whether my treasured bi-polar portable CD was having a down period. There certainly was a ‘whole lot of crazy going on’ especially for an album where almost half of the 17 tracks were well under two minutes long.

Squid stands out as a track where a heaving mass of sound collages seems to have been badly welded together and are ably assisted in ‘mission bizarre’ by other tracks that somehow manage to get the Banana Splits theme tune involved, bag loads of banjos and even some Bollywood soundtracks onto the musical agenda. ‘I’ never really understood why? Perhaps the band did not either beyond the quest for originality.

My summation at the time was that a) they were totally atypical to the usual melodic twee-pop fodder that Sarah Records had increasingly infused into the indie-nation psyche and b) that perhaps they had missed a trick as tracks such as Beautiful day (below) and Falling Down The Stairs (above) revealed that Wyver has an absolutely beautiful voice and it should have been used in a more coherent manner rather than severely overstepping the line between originality and death by drowning in it’s own sea of quirkiness.

I have never even contemplated getting rid my vinyl copy of this album that I have as the collector in me prevents this…but I have rarely felt the need to listen to it in the last 20+ years.

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