Yesterday I, boldly, declared that the new album from Wolfgang Flür, “Magazine 1”, was a contender for album of the year. It is a wild, hilarious, provocative and brilliant collection of songs from a man who carries the labels of legend and genius with grace and style. But it cannot now be album of the year because Adigéry and Pupul have arrived with “Topical Dancer” and the bookmakers have stopped taking bets.
In 1982 Dexys Midnight Runners released their Celtic soul album, “Too-Rye-Ay”, an album that seemed desperate to deliver pop music from the clutches of The Beatles, prog-rock and punk all at once. It wanted to look in different places for inspiration. It was a bold, and brave, record. On “Let’s Make This Precious” Kevin Rowland wrote;
“First let’s hear somebody sing me a record
That cries pure and true
No, not those guitars, they’re too noisy and crude
The kind that convinces, refuses to leave”
It was a call to arms."
Won’t somebody save us from the same four chords, the same faces, the same shallow pool of inspirations and the same voices.
Nobody in the world of “guitar music” paid much attention…for all the poses of rebellion most people become carbon copies of their parents. Fans of “real music” are “lads” and “legends” trapped in their childhoods, still listening to the same records that they heard in the womb, terrified to cut the cultural apron strings.
“Topical Dancer” is real music.
Nothing noisy or crude.
Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul are provocateurs, pop culture/counter-culture anarcho terrorists. Playing by the rules, but only the ones they have written. Drawing on their own culture and cultural experiences to create block rockin’, body poppin’, heart stoppin’, beats and breaks. It is difficult to imagine another record being released this year, maybe in any year, that is so profoundly personal and utterly universal at the same time.
If anyone writes a line that is sharper, braver, funnier or more perfect than “Go back to your country where you belong, Siri can you tell me where I belong?”, then I will eat all the bucket hats in Knebworth this summer. Just read it again before you get all bent out of shape trying to tell me that “Superficial feelings, it’s hard to take it easy, underneath the red sun, everything’s electric” is even in the same universe, let alone league. It’s a grand take down of racism delivered with such style and humour that it leaves you weak at the knees.
The whole album is stuffed to overflowing with political statements that, in the hands of a dullard like Billy Bragg would sound about as interesting as a fringe meeting at the Socialist Workers Party annual conference. But Adigéry and Pupul are smoother, smarter and sassier. Listening is a pleasure and not a chore, the messages delivered with such subtlety and humour that you welcome them. That is no mean feat. Politics in pop is often about as welcome as a comedian bringing a guitar on stage for a “funny” song.
It might seem a little early to be talking about the album of the year but…
It is difficult to imagine anything else dropping that will be quite as imaginative, creative, cultured and provocative. That all of those things are happening while you feel your body moving, grooving, shaking, bumping and, maybe, grinding is quite the thing. This is the standard by which all other albums this year must be judged, it transcends lazy labels like pop, electronica, dance or even “real” and stands, defiantly, as its own brave little thing. If anything matches it, let alone tops it, then this year will have been one Hell of a year for new music.