Mule Turner, with his Tired Bins side-project, has long been a band associated the recently new empty rock scene, so their new album, Glittering in a Fire of Alcopops is a welcome return to a different attitude for the band. Out go the towering dance solos of the first three albums, and back in are the glove muted pitter-patters of the earlier two debuts. It’s the sort of album that if you listen to it once, you hear it, but it takes a second listen to really start to recognise the songs. Lead guitarist Malcolm T. Dux is back on form, after a lengthy vow of silence, and he contributes some of the albums friendliest moments: on New Girlfriend Hazing, the central riff almost oozes with the suggestion of warm cafeteria food, while during Where Now Geography?, the double breasted strumming contrasts almost vaguely with the understated insignificance of Turner’s dessert-like whisperings.
There is a new urgency in Turner’s voice, which, while not warm, is certainly casually defrosted; a nod, perhaps, to the ambivalence of his teenage minutes. At times, on songs like Sleep Like The Police, Man, the vocals seem completely diagonal, escaping to the outer circle of the album and clouding up gently. At other times, you sense a pain, a discomfort, or possibly a terrible certainty, though never all at once, and not always while you are listening. The band are about to take the album on tour, to listen to on the bus or van, and such is the band’s cult-like following that each venue is sold out to the point where they just couldn’t sell anymore tickets. But try and find someone who is going, and rub their arms and hair: you’ll feel this band then, and you will understand their importance. They are rustic but enviable; calm but like a swan.
True Dis is an artist that has always courted controversy to great commercial success: his eponymous Gangrene album was the most listened to album ever to be banned before release, and his new album, Nutsack, is no different in that respect. But are there enough new ideas to make it worth your time? The answer is a mixture of perhaps and maybe. Dis again turns to key moments in his childhood for his lyrical inspiration: on Angry Sandwich, he talks about early battles against authority (“I went into the kitchen just to steal a biscuit/I knew that I’d get caught, but I wanted to risk it”) while he speaks about problems with the law on Got Blood All In It (“Got charged with assault/With some flattery/Managed to get the crime/Dropped down from battery/But who even cares/I punched Tony Slattery”).
But at times, Dis’ raps sound tired. At one point he raps, “You’ve got my head spinning like I’m drunk on shandy/My body’s like a toaster that I bought at Tandy”. On more than one occasion, he tries to rhyme “tambourine” with “tangerine”, “mango green” and, “banjo scene”, with only limited accuracy. Late in the album, you get the feeling he hasn’t pushed some ideas far enough, leaving the listener unsatisfied. On Far, he says, “Let’s get in my car/we’ll go far/If you’ve got far to go/take my car/it’s not far.” Ultimately, this is a very safe effort: the pointy cupboard edges of honesty tightly wrapped with the spongy cushion of mainstream recogniton so as not to get lodged in the eye of the young baby of public outcry. That said, if you are looking for the new True Dis album, then this is for you.