Friday, 1 October 2010
Rough Magic and Skewed Visions: some thoughts regarding Lupen Crook’s album “The Pros and Cons of Eating Out”.
Fairy stories come in two flavours: Walt Disney, and the Brothers Grimm. The one has friendly woodland creatures doing the washing up, and the other has women slicing lumps off their feet to make the Charming Prince’s shoe fit. In Lupen Crook’s world, every glass slipper contains at least one severed toe.
His album “The Pros and Cons of Eating Out” is the most coherent example of the Crook world-view yet. There’s the trademark hurky-jerky percussion, with gorgeous guitar lines swimming out of the chaos. There’s the disorientating mix of spat-out, venomous lyrics segueing into songs of immense tenderness. He writes and performs and discards more songs than any ten other bands. Some of them I love straight away, some take a while to sink in, and some (a few) I don’t care if I never hear again; but all of them are interesting, every one repays attention. Here, he’s built an album of songs that add up to considerably more than the sum of their parts, and the parts are really good.
He fronts a band that’s sort of two guitars, bass, and drums, but the resemblance to most other skinny indie guitar bands stops there. He likes a wild anarchic atmosphere, so as well as Bob Langridge’ sympathetic swinging drums, there’s pots and pans and hubcaps being bashed everywhere, and chaos and noise and wild, and then there’s a guitar coming out of the riot that is filigree and bell-like and truly beautiful. It’s a trick he plays a bit too often maybe, but the sound is angelic. Hellish cacophony, angelic melody. There’s a theme here. I really liked the German bit in “Sleeping Lions”, which sounds like a prison-warder shouting at inmates, but which translates as “Come together. Hold hands. Love one another. Quickly. ”
There are ideas and surprises in every song, and they all get better with lots of listens. Tom Langridge is responsible for most of the lovely guitar and keyboards, and is perhaps the greatest hubcap percussionist in Britain. Clayton Boothroyd holds it all together with some subtle, supple bass, Bob Langridge is such a sensitive, appropriate drummer, kicking it when he needs to, laying back when he doesn’t. They all support and sustain Lupen’s phenomenal song-writing, angsty, visionary, compelling. It isn’t always comfortable in his world, but it’s never dull.
The first track on the album, “Fantasist in March”, has a line:”As for us, we’ll be damned, that’s for sure.” and a really cheerful voice from the back goes “Yeah!”. That’s what the album felt like; we might be going to hell but it’s going to be an interesting ride. And as the last song says: “Hang on everybody that don’t belong, it’s going to be alright.”
Lupen’s music and stuff can be found at: