Wednesday, 26 March 2014

POST WAR GLAMOUR GIRLS - Pink Fur


“You strike me as the kind of person who has never made love before, therefore you are easily satisfied in general and with everything”. So shrieks James Smith to bring to a rather unceremonious end ‘Brat’, the schizophrenic closing track on Post War Glamour Girls’ debut album ‘Pink Fur’. It might seem a rather presumptuous claim, but judging by this record Smith’s band are extraordinary judges of character – ‘Pink Fur’ sounds like the human mind set to music, capturing its euphoric highs as well as its empty and paranoid lows. And it is absolutely sublime, from the dignified musicality to the madcap lyrics. Comparisons abound with the likes of Nick Cave, the Smiths and the Birthday Party, but PWGG have a sound all their own, a heady blend of light and dark which is simply addictive.
The latest record to drop off Leeds’ seemingly unending conveyor belt of musical excellence, ‘Pink Fur’ is all about mood, atmosphere, and colour; you can call it what you will, but don’t for one minute think that this is just lily-livered ambience, because this is a truly cerebral collection of songs. PWGG run the emotional gamut, and are capable of producing wholesome, expansive and even beautiful textures – the enthralling ‘Black Dolphin’ is ambitious in scope but completely justified, avoiding self-righteous pomposity like the plague, while latest single ‘Red Terror’ feeds off boy-girl vocal interplay to make like a warped, ballsier version of the XX, at least before building into a hypnotic brush with psychadelia. The rollicking ‘Jazz Funerals’ is equally positive, but attacks from a different angle, an elegantly-crafted slice of intelligent alt-rock which stomps on a drum beat while opening out with lush guitar lines, and features a chorus which can only be described as anthemic, and a million miles away from Coldplay.

But that is only part of the story, and it is PWGG’s complete refusal to be phased by the darker, bleaker corners of the psyche which makes them so magnetic. Communicating those tiny doubts and insecurities through music is a quite remarkable feat, but they achieve it, using tension and release to dramatic and dazzling effect. Their mastery over dynamics is showcased perfectly on opening track ‘Sestra’, which plays like a PWGG manifesto, brooding between menace and cautious warmth, a feeling which is continued on ‘Little Land’. ‘Lightbulb’ peaks and troughs its way from graceful verses to unhinged choruses, giving a subtle peak into their more abrasive side, and as stalwarts of the Leeds live scene since 2011, it’s no surprise to find the band able to rock with the best of them. Cuts like ‘Stolen Flowers Rust’, ‘Service Station Blues’ and the quirky, fuzz-drenched ‘Powdered Milk Asylum’ are bursting with clanging, buzzsaw energy, sitting on just the right side of chaotic to perfectly soundtrack a neurotic 48-hour caffeine binge.

 In an age of instant gratification which is nowhere as damaging as it is in music, it is refreshing to stumble across a release as intelligent and thought-provoking as ‘Pink Fur’. Holding no pretensions, it is a masterclass in showing why music is still, and will always be, the quickest way to connect with your mind and your emotions. You could listen to this record in the car, or on your way to work, but I suggest locking the door, turning the lights down low, pouring a stiff drink and enjoying the ride.

Words - Joe Ponting