Arrest! Charlie Tipper could be considered as something of jangle/indie-pop ‘super group’, having been formed from ex-members of notable bands such as The Flatmates, Groove Farm, Forest Giants and Beatnik Allstars. It is perhaps because of their past achievements that the band have had a bit of fun with the music industry and changed their name three times since 2015 using various different ‘Charlie Tipper’ variants. As it states it their bio, they did so because ‘they can’.
However, this retrospective of the ‘Tipper’ output is certainly far too accomplished to be considered as a ‘fun project’ as it provides the jangle/indie-pop world with 2018’s first truly brilliant jangle/indie-pop album and one that remains vastly different than anything else currently on offer, by effecting the superb juxtaposition of varying conflicting influences and musical aesthetics.
Initially the up tempo tracks can be divided into two distinct camps. Tracks such Ride, Rock and Roll for Dreaming Girls. Long Way Down and the albums true stand out, the spoken word, The Way ‘m Wired (see below) displays the bands ability to produce beautiful traditional jangle/guitar pop with musical reference points such as the prettier moments of Felt, late Shack and Teenage Fanclub being evoked. Such tracks are from the more commercially alluring side of the jangle-pop spectrum, but still have that indefinable ‘edge’ that means that the pretty never drifts into the realms of impotent.
The other side of the up-tempo tracks is represented by tracks such as Drowning (London Mix), Cross Country, Home on the Range and the superlative Let That Feeling Go (see below). These tracks weld the unlikely mix of the subtle incidental jangle-pop and mid tempo feel of the latest Pete Astor albums, to the jolting allure of the brass flourishes (in this case the hornet) of mid-80’s cool magnets The June Brides, to the slightly deadpan ‘made for indie’ Ian Broudie-esque vocals. It is a fundamentally weird mix, but the fact it works from so many angles means that it avoids accusations of eccentricity.
Finally there are a lot of slower tempo tracks that give the listener the essence of Belle & Sebastian, as there is the feel of telling nasty little stories in pretty little ways and while they never slip into the actual twee of the Glaswegians tracks such as Halloween, Wasting Time and No Going Back (surely the best Belle and Sebastian track that they never penned?) add a much needed guitar-pop ‘ying’ to the hornets ‘Yang’.
However, this album is not purely about the varying levels of musical brilliance. For the album art is symbolic of a release that reveals political and social angst. Let that Feeling Go sees the repeated imploring of ‘I wish I could change the World’ in response to the despair of all manner of social injustices around them such as the racist taxi driver who incessantly offers his unwanted opinions.
Similarly Homeless delivers a resigned jab at the non-working classes and politicians whose ‘You and Your Kind’ have made him homeless and in No Going Back where he states ‘It is getting harder to make a stand. I am sorely tempted to form a protest band’ Like their early 1980’s Bristol counterparts The Pop Group, they rally against much. Just with less frenzy and with a more refined sense of despairing resignation that nothing will ever really change that is often conveyed in the lyrics and atmosphere.
For those of us who like our jangle/indie pop served in numerous guises and with overt lyrical density this album should be the essential purchase for the first half of 2018.
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