Even Before They Begin
Grain Trade Pegs
Prognosis Records PRA-158739
This final ‘chapter’ in the Single Currency trilogy approaches concept album theatrics just like the marketing–friendly publishing phenomenon of those overblown fantasy–novel sagas which influenced its origination five years ago. Grain Trade Pegs have not outdone themselves here, or done their pop career any favours - failing to commit like a kamikaze veteran. In a musical medium where common sense is as rare as rocking–horse shit, this album boasts gibberish lyrics, about proverbial goodness knows what, in such a freeform hypocrisy against visionary composition that deciphering meaning of any sort is problematic at best, an inducer of apocalyptic headaches at worst.
New drummer Fatality Conundrum (formerly with Postcode War Zone, and Ultimate Restorative), brings her veritable cacophony of electronic percussion to a rock ‘n’ roll rhythm section that’s driven to distraction by nuke powerhouse bass guitarist Johnny Parallax (once upon a time acerbic front-man of Glasgow’s legendary ecto-punk outfit Indomitable Sprites), new champion of the indefinite riff and zinger of the lost chord. Lead guitarist and singer Roxbelle Dozer (whose twin sister Roxbeth, former guitarist with Blingdom Cum, owns Prognosis Records), is ably supported by keyboard player/ backing vocalist Goldie Commencement, maestro of hairy monster piano and bastard accordion, onetime Alternative Eurovision winner for composing the world’s greatest piano dirge, a noise later used as the theme tune for short–lived TV series Uruguay’s Got Talent.
Even Before They Begin is a Faustian compendium of broken promises, and reneged upon pacts, almost as ethically dubious as serving curdled milk preschoolers. Ground breaking as the proverbial pneumatic drill, first cut Reassuring Architecture is made of ore sum. Apostle Logic results in spreadsheet evangelism of mercenary preachers, highly reminiscent of the mostly agnostic band’s earlier antireligious material Still In Transit or Dog Almighty. A sporty cover version of Reckless But Pretty’s millennial #1 hit, Twizzlestick Delights marks a departure for the ’Pegs, going against the grain, so to speak, in more ways than one. Languid humour is not their usual musical mode, but here they trade-up from morbidity to mirth with a tremendous skill.
Airmail Viva Java is lyrical waffle; a companion piece to Maladroit Intellectual from the ’Pegs first Single Currency album - the much reviled Merely Beloved. There’s not a lot to be said in favour of salty tongue-twisting bayou jive in Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda, Rudder Judder Shudder, but energised pomp of Shot For Mooting offers a cautionary tale cataloguing the dangers of presenting legal problems in kangaroo courts. Raised By Wolverhamptons, could not possibly be any worse than it is, I suppose, but that’s hardly the point, really. It’s Easy To See Why lambastes any simple-minded reviewers who frequently assert their opinions as if such individual viewpoints are the only way to interpret a work, critically.
Venerable Forecast, Terrible Whispers contrasts markedly with Commodity Hugs & Thumb Sucking in the pandemonium stakes, much like the ’Pegs own alternative jazz foray, Vituperative Extracts. A firm favourite here is Dreaming Up, Dreaming Down - a gem of delinquent whimsy about the “fantasy of nosebleeds” and “myths of obesity,” which parallels this band’s all-time-great ‘signature’ classic, Ask Willy Wonka (heard at its very best in the ‘ta-ta 4 now’ remix). Waylaid Horizons is juicily funky, with its staged conversational exchanges of movie dialogue quotes embedded in the lyrics.
There’s certainly no mistaking the gruelling churn of Snogged To Death (Death Snog III, reprise) for any kind of love song, even of the sparkling vampire variety. No One Currently Likes This, offers a tirade against the faceless vacuity of social networking websites, bringing the ’Pegs assumed technophilia into question. Fiendishly complex or just a load of old cobblers..? Temporary Password is another track about people’s online presence and website activities – a largely satirical diatribe on impermanence, anonymity, and cyber–bullying. In the dark end, Even Before They Begin is wayward creativity unleashed.