The Manchester band’s third LP shifts moods with stirring regularity.
Martin Aston 2010
First, the Manchester four had to pick an unwieldy band name. Then they go and choose something baffling for their third album. At least 2007’s Businessmen & Ghosts had a much more manageable handle. But that was a double CD, with well over 100 minutes of music. Not content with overloading an unsuspecting public, Jojo Burger Tempest is yet another double, though it’s a trifling 88 minutes. Are they a bit insane?
Maybe, but brothers Phil (keyboards) and Jon Kay (drums), Gary McLure (guitar) and Ed Hulme (bass) are also a bit marvellous. Their press release calls them "Electronic post-rock" but they could also be The Stone Roses if smitten by Krautrock rather than The Byrds or Led Zeppelin. Guitars ring, synths modulate, Phil’s vocals are light and wistful, and the rhythm section is a flexible companion. But the opening Do a Stunt resembles no band more than those most precious, twiddly, sometimes lovable but humungously unfashionable prog-rockers Yes. I repeat: are WFANFC a bit insane?
Silent Times, up next, is a prime dose of Roses/Byrds vintage, and sounds like the sun breaking through the clouds. But nothing is fixed. The instrumental Pachinko darts and swirls around, like the Japanese pinball game it’s named after, with electronic vapour trails and a clear post-rock throb. A Black Square With Four Yellow Stars feels distinctly oriental, but as dreamy and restless as a Bowie Berlin-era instrumental.
Float Bridges takes this mood to another place – a fusion of Yes in their most tranquil prog phrase crossed with their synth-laden 80s guise. On it goes, a mad journey with some gorgeous vistas. WFANFC do make things easy by making CD one a fairly traditional 50 minutes long. The second disc houses the 33-minute title-track, a collage of all the ideas that didn’t make it into songs. It’s less Working For than Driving Through a nuclear-free (or otherwise) city, taking in all the myriad sights, as opposed to the unchanging view of the motorway/ autobahn. It’s the apogee of WFANFC’S haphazard, pulsing approach aesthetic, though it’s the side course to CD one’s more manageable event. In the end, WFANFC aren’t that crazy and way out. How do we know? Because they decided against calling the album Mrs Fuzzlekins Rides Again. The Manchester water supply, so much to answer for…
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