Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Middle-age symphonies to the cat on the windowsill

Play it: Scritti Politti - White Bread Black Beer

As I mentioned back in my Wales post, Scritti Politti are back, and their new album White Bread Black Beer finally sees it's US release today. Some are comparing much of Green Gartside's songs this time around Brian Wilson and his "teenage symphonies to God," but Pitchfork nails it on the head when they call it more like "middle-age symphonies to the cat in the windowsill." "Snow in the Sun" is the song that has every one's Brian Wilson references cued up, but the intimacy of both Gartside's airy voice and home studio makes it more relaxed then Wilson's grand intentions.

Starting out as a political post-punk band in 1978 (Scritti Politti references the writings of Italian Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci,) the original Green Gartside-led collective had one of the most dramatic transitions from messy marxist art punk to the soulful electro-pop of the 1985 album Cupid & Psyche '85 (play "Perfect Way.") Early recordings only hinted at how Gartside would become, and in turn influence, soulful R&B of the mid-80s. While White Bread... still has Gartside writing smart R&B and electro-pop, but it's far more intimate then his previous pop albums, and in that, it's a slight return to Scritti Politti's roots.

It's a very subdued, even gentle, album (even with the repeated cursing in "Cooking" and the distorted guitars of "Dr. Abernathy,") and I can see it slipping by many ears who are looking for something a little more danceable (like the electronic-funk of "E Eleventh Nuts,") or something less... sweet - and White Bread can seem pretty sacharine at times - but those that let it slip will be missing one of the smartest releases this year.

Video:
"Perfect Way" (Classic!)
"Word Girl"
"Wood Beez"
"Boom! (There She Was)"

More:
Wales watching (trip to Wales / Welsh artists profiled)

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1 comment:

drake leLane said...

Scritti Politti - White Bread Black Beer

1. The Boom Boom Bap
2. No Fine Lines
3. Snow in Sun
4. Cooking
5. Throw
6. Dr. Abernathy
7. After Six
8. Petrococadollar
9. E Eleventh Nuts
10. Window Wide Open
11. Road to No Regret
12. Locked
13. Mrs. Hughes
14. Robin Hood