There are a thousand stories in the naked city or so the tellers of tall tales say as they prop up the bar in the centre of the bathroom mirror that counts as their life these days with memories of the ghosts of Glasgow bands being regularly exorcised in the name of sentiment and the essential salient punchline but, my friends, is all that is great really in the past? Step sideways for now as I recall a bizarre conversation in a basement bar with the drummer from the Girobabies. He produced a pen, drew a cat and was consequently escorted from the premises by, of all things misanthropic, another drummer. Anyway, that’s more than enough for the first paragraph segue and it is time to find out Who Took Utopia? from the Girobabies.
However, there’s still time to ponder for a moment. How many bands draw from the past these days? Practically all of them but every now and then something uplifting happens and a band actually uses its influences to build something new. You can hear the exaltation of others all through “Who Took Utopia?” yet there is something special here. Let’s call it originality. Let’s call it ability. Let’s call it the best reason to have ears that you will find this year.
Time for an example. The spacious city groove of “Late Night Sketchy” could be Lou Reed holding clammy hands with Mark Lanegan if it were not for the fact that the Girobabies have, remarkably, found an untouched vein ready for that clean needle of inspiration. Likewise the manic “Brain Rocket (and the Evolution of Turtles)” is less a reinvention of all things psychedelic than a raucous reflection on the madness of these times. The times, they are indeed mutating.
With lyrical misanthropy very much to the fore, the Girobabies deploy their words with metronomic precision and consequently use “Planet Fort Knox” as the grenade that would win the battle against mediocrity although, should greater firepower be required, the sheer pent up aggression to be found within the glorious “Ramp Up The Theatre” would surely exterminate all opposition anyway.
Is this the beginning or the end? An upper or a downer? Carnage or considered chaos? If anyone still cares, “Who Took Utopia?” is the kind of album that puts a tiger in your tank and proves to even the cynical that the Girobabies are a band cursed with originality. I know because the ghost of George Orwell and his chorus of metaphors told me so.
Rewind and replay. Yes, rewind and replay.