Album Review by Mark Bayross
Funny I should mention Happy Mondays in my review of Lowfinger’s last single, because on the opening track of this, their debut album, singer Will Matthews does an almost perfect impression of Shaun Ryder.
Lowfinger make good use of Will and his sister Sarah’s vocal-sharing, along with an assortment of samples, beats and guitars (courtesy of the splendidly but improbably named Nobby Bollox and Wally Spangler – an ex-US marine, no less) and a bassist who calls himself Shaggy. They have also roped in a couple of live drummers, just for added punch.
As you may have guessed, Lowfinger are not the new Joy Division – they are obviously enjoying themselves, and, I assume, hoping the vibe rubs off on their listeners. They may be playing for laughs, but they can still crank out an effective tune and find room to squeeze steel drums into the mix (AIRFINGER).
This album is nothing if not varied, yet it all somehow remains cohesive. The frankly insane 3 MONKEY SOUP could out-dirty-funk Black Grape, while shuffling BEACH FINGER twists and turns though handclaps and Hammond organ. The dreamy CAPE OF THE GOOD FOOT does wander off into Cloud Cuckooland but DOO DOO VOODOO wakes you up with some super-tight drumming and chunky bass.
All the singles are on here – the fuzz-punk of SCHOOLROOM HEADRUSH, IDIOT RADAR (a pretty decent appropriation of Deee-lite’s “Groove Is In Heart”) and the joyously playful GO GO ME A BIG POP.
You can practically hear the band’s arm-windmills on the guitars of the acerbic Bon Jovi-ish ROCKBAND (“This town was always yours to take / and hey kid, there’s no doubt / you’ll make it yours”), while the album finishes with the rousing “Thankful (Friggs)”, which, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say was their stab at stadium-rock.
At times this album evokes other London bands like Eat or Alabama 3, and certainly, beneath the shiny cartoon pop exterior, some songs are bubbling with an innate sense of urban angst and barely-suppressed vitriol.
There’s more going on here than you might think. Worth (quite a few) listens.