Album Review – Live at the Rum Puncheon by Swansea Sound (2021)(Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records / Austin Town Hall Records / Lavender Sweep Records)
This Swansea Sound project is the reincarnation of three-parts of the simply majestic jangly indie/twee-pop act that is/was, The Catenary Wires. Consisting of Ian Button (also Papernut Cambridge and various indie-pop etc), Rob Pursey (Heavenly also of numerous indie-pop etc) and Amelia Fletcher (Marine Research, indie-pop etc etc etc), they spent most of the enforced sit at home pandemic times, recording remotely together.
In my mind (perhaps the various lockdown has addled it with too much time?) they were writing lovely innoffensive, jangly indie-pop ditties, that would eventually form the core of a completely fabricated Sarah Records reunion.
All beautiful, all fluttering, all tiny incidental jangled riffs, nestled within computer files they swapped with each other via the wonders of modern technology. They were causing no harm and in fact, such a collusion would only lead to something ‘so good’ that culminated in a sound of beautiful fragility.
Then a long came Welshman Hue Williams. With all his Swansea, South Wales-ness to grab ahold of the project, make it all Welsh by causing confusion by calling it a name that make makes people believe it is a live performance, held at a famous Swansea gig-pub (until Google enlightens you to the fact that such a famous local landmark closed ages ago) and bullying our sweet aforementioned, home counties trio, into being raucous indie-pop ragamuffins, with the sheer swathes of Welsh testosterone, that can only be acquired by a race that drink Brains bitter (by actual choice).
Of course that is all the defecation of a common male bovine and purely made up and in fact the ex-The Pooh Sticksman was felt (by the Pursey / Fletcher songwriting partnership) to be the natural ‘owner’ of the vocals, that would support the C86 vitriolic that regularly courses through tracks like I Sold My Soul on ebay (oh Amelia, why so shouty, why so very angry, why so wonderfully unbecoming?) and The Pooh Sticks. The tracks are all mental, vibrant, C86, that feels like 28th Day winning the local The Pooh Sticks contest.
The tempo and faux aggression declines somewhat and is replaced with the layers of fuzz-pop that consumes Rock n’ Roll Void, I’m OK When You’re Around and Je Ne Said Quoi, or would do if Fletchers sweet, made for indie-pop backing vocals did not add a beautiful sense of saccharine disparation.
Of course the famed Pursey / Fletcher laconic indie-chic, is never fully tamed as Let It Happen, Corporate Indie Band, Angry Girl and Pasadena take us into familiar 80/90s indie-pop territories, with their sense of subtle ‘inimitably cool’.
Of course it feels somewhat different to the usual Fletcher / Pursey multi act back catalogue, due to the extra spittle that the Williams vocals provide. However in an album full of undiluted, sardonic attacks on the music industry and the falseness of society in general, such subtle barbed is so very apt.
It feels like this band have been with us forever, such is the support they have been given from the best of zine and blog world with the release of their previous 7″ singles… However, that does not stop this album from being the ‘freshest retro’ around.