Open with a song partly in French, as the old showbizz greats used to say: "Puritaines" opens on an waspy high bassline, or a very low, throaty guitar line then sings about new Puritans and possibly something to do with television. Sax and guitar duet like angry swans fighting at Buckingham Palace. It has a limping drive that I don't think I've heard from anything recently. "Barefoot Doctor" is about "rattling ghosts" with some big festive-sounding cymbals and a feline bassline. I'm reminded of Japan. "The New Hassan" also drags itself though some slow, sour places - almost like a beatless version of Primal Scream's Jah Wobble mix of Higher Than The Sun with loads of really tense and tiny violins giving it some in a nearby echo chamber. Some big, weird, morbid parade has passed.
Vocals take a while to arrive on "(Screaming) To Be With You", skidding in on top of jittery and Arabic sounding tune. That Arabic image is copied on the hidden face on the cover as well. The lyrics slide past me in the sandstorm, except the title. "Rattling Ghosts" crashes in with some more Middle Eastern sounds, a bagpipe heard in market trading. "Simple Helen" moiders on about a butcher's daughter. There's a folk tale sense to the lyrics and I'm wondering if they're based on some Middle Eastern legends or somesuch. They have an imported feel, as though stories have been picked up wholesale without much lyrical input.
It ends with "Miss Manners" with spooky gaps and dramatic tension enough to give it a Death on the Nile feel. And with that, my casual racism draws to a close for another album. There's a feel of the coffee table and early world music exploration and dinner parties. Turns out they were from Nottingham.
Rating: Dinner Party out of Lawrence of Arabia