There is only one Lawrence, this is his gospel, and roll on the next chapter.
Martin Aston 2012
Anyone keeping tabs on the ongoing legend that is Lawrence will know that the latest chapter was the documentary Lawrence of Belgravia, a film rivalling Werner Hertzog’s The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser for, uh, enigma. But now, finally, there is a third album under his current alias.
The man who formed Felt – spindly 80s guitar-pop beauties who recorded for Cherry Red and Creation – and then Denim’s 70s glam-rock escapade added a bubblegum twist with Go-Kart Mozart’s 1999 debut LP, Instant Wigwam and Igloo Mixture. Even in the 21st century, the Mozart, as Lawrence would never call them, are defiantly sticking with it.
Thematically, this 17-track album is, he says, “a rag bag of contemptuous attitudes”. That’s contempt for art, sex, country, “and most especially contempt for the audience that might be listening”.
Perhaps Lawrence has some reserve contempt for people who recycle the past to ladle irony over our lack of progress and character. But then Lawrence is of sufficient unique, maverick, perverse character to make Go-Kart Mozart so much more than that.
He is, above all, funny, and there is no better song-titler on Earth. Blowin’ in a Secular Breeze, White Stilettos in the Sand and Spunky Axe are just three classics, illuminating a world of cartoon emotion halfway between saucy and sordid.
Your appreciation of Hot Dog’s music depends on your taste and tolerance for the fag-end (not a criticism) of glam; not Bowie/Roxy art-pop, but the junk-shop ‘velvet tinmine’ approach of Hector, Iron Virgin, Spiv, Flintlock. For example, Come on You Lot takes Hot Butter’s synth popcorn to the football terraces.
Secular Breeze recalls Brian and Michael’s Matchstick Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs. Spunky Axe is best: a chugging boogie with Lawrence’s best cockernee vocal and a coda of delirious whining guitars and cat impersonations. Most bizarrely, once its intro is done, Lawrence Takes Over is a perfect impersonation of Suede.
Hot Dog Streets is a great singles album straining to be unleashed. But no matter if it doesn’t breed hits. There is only one Lawrence, this is his gospel, and roll on the next chapter.