THE NIGHTINGALES ‘Mind Over Matter’ (Louder Than War)

As a TV producer by trade my ears were instantly drawn to the sharply observed song ‘Gales Doc’, a mockumentary which seems to sum up the career of “cult Midlands pop band” The Nightingales in a cracking nut shell.

In it enigmatic and gobby band leader Robert Lloyd pastiches the whole teaser/recap format redolent of Channel 4 fact ent formats, and gets the digs in at himself, perhaps before others can.

He describes how other bands of their ilk have “their sound” which they hive chunks from over and over, whereas his band “are sonically superior”. According to the song this is chiefly because they like to use the trick of the band progressively getting quieter while Lloyd talks, until he gives them a cue makes them play loud once more.

Quite obviously, witty though that is, The Nightingales are impossible to define. Perhaps that has ensured their longevity, but it has also cemented their outsider hero status. It’s no surprise that other than The Fall and Half Man Half Biscuit, Lloyd made the most appearances in John Peel Sessions (with original punk band The Prefects, The Nightingales and solo).

‘Mind Over Matter’ is a rambunctious ride through multifarious styles all sired by Lloyd’s inimitable world weary and pleasingly sneery lyrics, and knitted together by irresistible drum and eye rolls by Fliss Kitson.

There are echoes of the hippy hippy shake (“For Goodness Sake”), shaking all over (“I Itch”), and seismic sitting room quakes with the call and response of emasculation epic “The Man That Time Forgot”. It all gets more motorik in the middle with droning diptych “For Different Folks” and “Stroke Of Genius”, complete with nightingale field recordings and the clear influence of studio bassist Andreas Schmid, erstwhile member of Faust and in-house bassist at their German studio where the album was recorded.

The aforementioned “Gales Doc” is the mirth-some masterpiece at the heart of  ahem ‘Mind Over Matter’, but it’s gainfully followed by “Great British Exports” surely the best and only pop song to segue the English malaise of bad football, tea, Mumford & Sons and slavery. It’s simultaneously nostalgic, angry and bang up to date. In other words it’s vital, like this album.

Never mind the hyperbole-ocks, this is the best album of the year so far.

Rating: Blowing up a Gale. 
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