:: Article

What Will Survive Of Us

“The sparse accompaniment suits the vast narrative perfectly, evoking rain on windscreens and lonely bedrooms. A vague reference point would be Nick Cave, younger, hungrier, and more mischevious nightmare-narrator than rumbling preacher”

What Will Survive Of Us, the new compilation album from Tough Love Records, takes its name from a Philip Larkin poem and could therefore be reasonably expected to squeeze all hope and joy from your existence. Thankfully, these 19 tracks do rather the opposite, and at four pounds fifty from the label’s website the sampler is well worth picking up. From the ADD blast of ‘Apples’ by Das Wanderlust, stabbing verses bookended by a lush floaty riff, it’s clear that today’s independent talent is surely alive and kicking.

Much of it is apparently also dicking around with synths and bleepy things, with a good deal of the bands on the roster having electronic garnishes to their songs. ‘Kermit Song’ by Smokers Die Younger, for example, makes reliable promises of “playing the keyboard/not fucking up”, and is utterly bizarre but still quite brilliant; a trend continued by the meaty dancefloor deluge of Camp Actor‘s ‘Get Hold Of This’.

Another element shared by many of the Tough Love artists is hiccuping or yelped vocals in oddly-timed delivery, exemplified in the wonderfully titled ‘Whoreditch’ by William, who despite their refrain of “don’t pin your hopes on me” ought to be a safe bet for future success in a just world. Equally impressive is ‘MSN Stole My Girlfriend’ from Honeytrap, who tether down their rowdy, speaker-swapping romp with a stupidly ghoulish B-movie chorus and a sneaky, snaky bassline.

Other styles rearing their heads include the 90’s-emo-influenced punchy melodies of Little Death, and the jittery sass-punk of Chaos Emeralds, complete with clapping and taut vocals that should appeal to fans of The Long Blondes. There’s post-rock from Souvaris and almost country from Don’t Move, but perhaps the biggest divergence comes from The Tacticians. ‘London’s Alright’ is nothing more or less than 3 minutes and 40 seconds of simple, folk-pop genius. Losing yourself in their upbeat melodies and happy-go-lucky strumming, it’s easy to forget that this is 2006, or that guitars usually have to be electric to carry this much honesty and passion. And yes, that’s a “sha-la-la”. Of course it’s retro, but it’s also timeless, and deserves to be the anthem of every summer spent in cramped tubes or big red buses looking for the open spaces and the beautiful things while the sunshine lasts.

As the disc enters its final strait, we get Flipron, who are perhaps like no other band you have ever heard. ‘The Vicious Car And Love Poem’ is just that: six minutes of smart rhymes and wordplay about a car, and then love, snarlingly spoken over dark, insistent chords and unsettling piano flutters. The sparse accompaniment suits the vast narrative perfectly, evoking rain on windscreens and lonely bedrooms. A vague reference point would be Nick Cave, younger, hungrier, and more mischevious nightmare-narrator than rumbling preacher. Although long, it passes surprisingly quickly. Like the album, there is no filler. Pretty much every track on this CD deserves to be here, or shows potential to become a real contender in a matter of time.

Rounding things off, with the actually-quite-good-poetry of ‘Bad Poetry’ come Korova, with their dark, widescreen riff-rock, and finally the gaspy, stuttering ‘The French Way Of Life’ by The Sequins puts things to bed, finding grace and violins in “cheap pornography on the French TV”, smoothing down their nervously debonair shuffle to a gentle, swooning climax.

It’s early days for Tough Love Records, but if this is What Will Survive Of Them, then they ought to be remembered very fondly indeed.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Richard O’Brien was born in Peterborough in 1990, and has been trying to escape ever since. He is currently still trying to get an education, and resides in a Lincolnshire village with his parents and his labradors with nautical names. He likes to act, listen to music, and write songs that will never be sung.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, September 5th, 2006.