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Repomen - Moonlight Driving/the Finest Line

  by John Clarkson

published: 12 / 11 / 2003

Repomen - Moonlight Driving/the Finest Line
Label: Repomen
Format: CDS


Eclectic, impressive new "double A sided" EP from ever dependable Sheffield indie guitar quartet, the Repomen

Almost completely unknown outside their native Sheffield, the Repomen have never been remotely fashionable or in vogue. For those, however, who are aware of them, they have been a constant source of revelation and surprise. The group, a post-punk four piece, which consists of Pennyblackmusic writer Denzil Watson (Vocals, Keyboards) ; Ric Bower (Guitars, Vocals, Keyboards) ; Simon Tiller (Bass) and James Hughes (Drums), first formed in 1990. They then split up in 1992 after releasing two cassette-only EPs, before reforming again in 1996. Since they got back together they have released a series of impressive "double A sided" CD EPs, and also last year a retrospective CD, 'Seventeen Again', which compiled together every song they had recorded to date. 'Moonlight Driving/The Finest Line' is the latest in the "double A sided" series. It has always been Repomen policy never to make the same record twice, and this new four song offering both builds upon and breaks away from the formulas of the past. In contrast to the band's previous outings, it puts a stronger emphasis on keyboards, and was also recorded largely at home. Without the constraints imposed by the financial limitations of expensive studio time, the Repomen have had more time to experiment with and to detail their music, and the songs on 'Moonlight Driving/The Finest Line' are, as a result, more heavily layered than those on their other EPs. The exuberant, furious-rhythmed 'Moonlight Driving' bounces chiming keyboards up against swirling, fedback guitars, and also throws into its mix echoing studio effects and a bellowing saxophone solo from Ric. It has a fraught Denzil, who sings one of the end verses through a voice distorter, making two moonlight drives, one in the pouring rain, one on a clear night. Far from being romantic, however,each journey has him crippled with nerves and doubts. The breezy 'The Finest Line', which has Ric playing a chirping mandolin as one of the lead instruments, seems in contrast at first to take a more positive outlook on love, but in another twist to the tale quickly finds the hapless Denzil once again torn in two directions, "Believe me, I'm not true" he croons desperately in its chorus. "Believe me, I'm not through/ Believe me, I love you." The band's "A sides" have previously always been electric, while its "B sides" have been acoustic. This new EP, however, moves away from this, and only one of its songs, the third track, the balladic 'Untethered', is acoustic. It is a song which has divided fans. There are some who find it charming and feel that it numbers amongst their best. Others feel that its melodic softness and its odd (for the Repomen anyway !) depiction of a perfect romance result in it lacking the grittiness of the group's other recordings. Relying less on technical wizardry than the other songs on the EP, it is an endearing, if somewhat cloying and sentimental track which nevertheless finds the band breaking once again into new territory. The final song, the six minute 'Delta Blues' is a swaggering, earthy blues number, which featuring Tiller on double bass and Denziil on keyboards, has Ric making a rare outing on lead vocals. He throws himself into the task with a blustering, foghorn passion. With a lyric about a car crashing in the river, his vocals remain just on the right side of tongue-in-cheek and carry a bullish charisma of their own. Four new songs then which find the ever eclectic Repomen as challengingly diverse as ever, and with each new step taking risks and trying something different ! In this age, in which product is a buzz word, and a band has to fit into an easily marketable format to get noticed , the Repomen never will perhaps get the recognition they deserve. For those looking, however, for an alternative and something more demanding, they remain a distinct breath of fresh air.

Track Listing:-
1 Moonlight Driving
2 The Finest Line
3 Untethered
4 Delta Blues

Band Links:-

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