Album Review – Etc… by Subterfuge (2020) (Less Records)

If I badly wanted to be considered as any type of ‘indie cool’, this is the sort of band I would name check to help foster such an unlikely image.

Initially, I would declare I have been a fan since they started in the early 90’s (rather than only having their Marc album from 1996) and I would then manufacture some story about how my grief was almost tangible when they stopped recording in 2007. You see, I have got my entry into the ‘kingdom of cool’ all planned.

However, there is an immediacy to this posthumous array of b-sides, re-mixes and cover tracks that precludes the need for the concept of cool to be woven (fabricated) around an interesting back story. Unlike so many hit and miss outtakes albums, you can just dive straight into consistent quality.

Essentially there are two wonderful primary aesthetics to this glorious rag tag of a compilation, Initially, the rockier edge of Lovey era Lemonheads, informs tracks such as Movie Star (Harpo Cover), Awareness (see below), Pressure Generation (Mean Time Cover), I Think of You When My Phone Doesn’t Ring (Single Version) and Well. 

All perfect Dando laconic vocals, percussion that sticks for that perfect nano-second too long and precious layers of fuzz, these tracks are anything but ‘Etc…’.

The ‘second sound’ is infinitely more precious to what I remember about the general Subterfuge vibe from the 90 and early 2000’s and decidedly more jangly.

These tracks digress casually between the acoustic playfulness of Fist Fuck Photo (’96 Radio Session), the Dando meets The Slow Summits fluttering Sarah Records jangle of They Don’t Know (Tracey Ullman Cover) (see below) and beautiful slow burners like Finish (Mega City Four Cover) and Bad Hair Days (Mikrofisch Cover) that adopt stunning chiming riffs as a their default mode.

I am not sure if the release of this compilation signals that Subterfuge are intending a comeback, or simply getting all nostalgic in their lockdown days, but either way this is a total joy of an album.

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