NIGHTINGALES “BECOME NOT BECOMING” EP – Review

NIGHTINGALES ‘Become Not Becoming’ (Tiny Global Productions)

To conclude our Nightingales week on Velvet Sheep, today the new record is out, and it’s a fizzing firecracker as befits a record whose opening lyrics are “don’t wanna be all work and no play” and whose opening song has the self-effacing title “B-Side At Best”. Not only are Robert Lloyd’s lyrics always playfully sardonic, they are pleasingly meta, continuing on the great work from their last full album “Mind Over Matter” (Velvet Sheep’s fav from 2015). And straight from the top, there’s that crisp vocal interplay with drum sensation Fliss Kitson, coming over like a modern day Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl, a ball that starting rolling from “The Man That Time Forgot” and which has the same unstoppable kinetic energy as the ball that chases Harrison Ford down a cave and makes him grab his hat from under a closing shutter. The cat is well and truly out the bag, and the Kit(son). And it wears Lloyd’s songwriting very well, colourful like a vintage Boateng suit from Dalston Oxfam.

Of course this is no “B-Side”, it’s every bit a banger as old Gales classics “Idiot Strength” or “Paraffin Brain” yet fuller sounding thanks to those signature Kitson tribal Bow Wow Wow drum rolls. Lloyd goes high, he goes off the wall, he gets angry, he changes pace (and let me just continue to put the “i” in cliche with my hack descriptions), until the song reaches it’s peak call & response “I wanna sign you baby because you look good” and perhaps this is Cowell style A&R through a force ten Gale?

Captain Sensible recently happy talked the Gales for their unpredictable time signatures, and it’s never truer than on the “unabashed, unashamed and unaware” second song “In”, with it’s stop-starts and irresistible force. Plus it’s short and I love a sub 3 min song. Punk rock right?

Lloyd’s sing-speak croon comes on the slightly slower kitsch-en sync drama “Too Posh To Push” until a bit of shouting and a Beefheart style breakdown bit to remind us that it’s not all post punk bangers. It works up into a cycle of drumming that Jaki Liebezeit (RIP) would have been proud of. With the lyrics “Tesco Value pasta bags” it goes more Stump than “Trout Mask Replica” but that’s part of the Gales charm wrapped up right there in a grease soaked bag of chips by the seaside.

“The Divorce That Never Was” includes the use of a swanee whistle with no irony whatsoever. I wish more records did. It carries a melancholic and particularly British pathos. Meanwhile the drums are part marching band, part Ant Rap and Robert reaches gutteral heights of throaty angst.

“Booze And Broads And Beauty”, seemingly about the poseur, Billy Bullshit character you might know from your local pub (if anyone still goes to the pub? I have to say i don’t know these days) has some killer, and instant classic lines “I think I used to know him, I used to go to school with him and he wrote a poem” and also “and then the chap that thought he knew him, in my homosexual phase I might have blew him”. Acerbic wit, with staccato dynamics and the same nod and wink you’d get from “Elvis The Last Ten Days” or “Joking Apart”, what more could you want from a Gales tune. This one’s surely the “Gales Doc” of the new EP.

And it doesn’t stop there. In tailgun Charlie song “Drown”, it starts with the lyrics “the boy stood on the burning deck, his face engulfed by fire” – a horrifying take on the classic poem “Casabianca”, with the inbuilt bite of Spike Milligan, and the love allegory of the original. It’s a  maelstrom of apposite aggression, not so much a full stop to the EP as an exclamation mark to punctuation the needle running off the vinyl. And for 10″es “Become Not Becoming” has got a good inch per flinch hit rate.

Rating: Very becoming. 
Available now from http://thenightingales.org.uk/

Author: Nick Hutchings

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