Morton Valence Bob and Veronica Ride Again Review

Released 2009.  

BBC Review

A full-fat slice of hook-rich electro-pop.

Daryl Easlea 2009

Morton Valence have been around since the mid 00s and have almost been on the verge of making it ever since. They were selected as music chain Fopp’s most promising newcomers of 2006, were tipped by the Guardian in 2007 and Chandelier, this album’s majestic opener, was a BBC Radio 2 Single of the Week last year. They also released possibly the best single you’ve never heard of the past decade, Sailors, a full-fat slice of hook-rich electro-pop.

The big time may still elude them after this, their debut album, but it is a fine example of classic, intelligent British art pop. Accompanied with a 112-page romantic novella, Bob and Veronica Ride Again is an immense, well-made record that sounds far bigger than its budget.

Funded by the group selling shares last year (those who contributed have their names in the booklet), it sounds like a proper old LP, with a beginning a middle and an end.

Loosely speaking, the concept involves Veronica getting on a London tube train and attempting to escape from her past. She heads for glory with her partner, Bob. For 40 minutes, we follow their exploits, falling down staircases, camping in fields of crickets, and swinging from the chandeliers, remembering that they “believe in lust at first sight.”

Whether you find all this piffle or not, the music behind it is pretty sharp. The band’s sound has shifted from their early singles from electro-pop to broader, sweeping shoegazing pop. Leader Robert ‘Hacker’ Jessett has moved away from the lion’s share of lead vocals and allowed keyboard player Anne Gilpin to take centre stage. Her delicate, emotive style is complemented by Jessett’s growl.

Funny Peculiar hints at the synthesiser origins of the band, with its increasing force and Jessett’s ‘let it rain all over me’ refrain. At least three of the tracks, Ordinary Pleasures, Chandelier and Falling Down The Stairs would be worthy of a best of the year compilation.

Although Morton Valence may end up the way of all classic two-word high-concept bands (you know, Fat Truckers, Earl Brutus, Regular Fries, Beta Band), there is a chance with Bob And Veronica Ride Again they could go that extra mile. Let’s hope so.

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