Sunday, 1 January 2012

The 2kDozen 500 - Gruff Rhys "An Atheist Xmas EP"

So following on from my last thought about Bjork and the G-Man, I gave "An Atheist Xmas" a proper listen. I'd listened to the vinyl that I'd been given as a present from Slinky Jones, but the last track was interrupted. So technically, I'm not cheating on my own rules, am I? So I listened to it on Spotify while I was doing the washing-up. Greetings from Modernityland.

He's a tricky customer, this Rhys guy. He's said before now that he can't help but write melodic tunes, even when he's angry. And he seems pretty angry here. There used to plenty of posters round Bangor when I'd come home for Christmas advising us to "stwffio'r Dolig" ("stuff Xmas") and I wonder how much Gruff might've been involved, because he seems pretty intent on reminding us about how shitty Christmasses can be.

One track, relevantly optimistic, is about people surviving nuclear holocaust long enough to mark the first post-apocalyptic Xmas. The second is about someone thinking about suicide. The third is "Slashed Wrists This Christmas", about a friend that tried to kill themselves in 1987. "Mistletoe and Wine" they amn't.

But the tunes are sweet as always; the vocals understated to the point of mumbling, which I suppose makes a midwinter sense. And the songs seem to have mutated from the likes of Mud's "Lonely This Christmas" those glamrock reinventions of the early Rock'n'Roll. "Post Apocalypse Christmas" in particular has a hazy, fuzzy T-Rex like shuffle to it with handclaps and everything - Showaddywaddy Claus or summat like that.

While the first two tracks could possibly be bleak atheistic jokes, "Slashed Wrists" is apparently a true story and there's a curious mix of anger and guilt, some of it directed towards "light entertainment" - shored up with an old time gospel radio vibrato organ throughout. A real downbeat singalong.

So a real antidote for warm, fuzzy festive feelings, if you want it. Cold, cold razor blades all round.

Rating: Travelling out of Xmas.

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