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Repomen - Parallel Schizophrenic

  by John Clarkson

published: 26 / 5 / 2009

Repomen - Parallel Schizophrenic
Label: Phantom Power Records
Format: CDS


Life-affirming latest EP from durable and constantly inventive Sheffield-based band, the RepoMen

The RepoMen are one of Sheffield’s most prolific as well as durable musical institutions. Even amongst its band members themselves, it is a subject of debate exactly how many recordings the RepoMen have made over the years since forming in 1991. At the last count though, it seemed to stand at ten EPs and a split single as well as a 2006 album, ‘Songs They Never Play on the Radio'. Always restless in nature, the group, which consists of Denzil Watson (vocals), Ric Bower (guitars, keyboards and vocals), Simon Tiller (bass, vocals) and James Hughes (drums) ,have moved far beyond their punk pop beginnings, experimenting over the years with music in a wide variety of styles including Americana, alternative folk, jangle pop, psychedelia and more recently a piano-based sound. For ‘Parallel Schizophrenic’, the title track on their latest five song EP, they have, however, returned briefly to their roots. It is a glorious piece of post-punk of chugging rhythms, tumbling guitars and swooping keyboards, which, becoming increasingly distorted, chronicles perfectly the nervy, unhinged state of Denzil’s delusional protagonist’s rapidly uncoiling mind (“I hide behind your bedroom door/I hide in your deepest thoughts/I hide in the apple trees/ Noone knows it is me”). ‘Brickface’, the first of the B sides, is a breezy soaring punk rock anthem and tale of love-turned-to-rot in which spiralling keyboards and guitars bash and battle against each other for dominance. ‘Breathe’ in complete contrast is a wispy ballad and gentle ode to love gone which finds Ric Bower making a rare appearance on vocals and James Hughes also flitting instruments from guitar to drums. The fourth track, the adrenaline-driven ‘Ride’, finds this most diverse of bands jumping sounds again and, all grinding guitars and hacked vocals, is the closest the RepoMen will probably ever get to a heavy rock number. It seems that even the RepoMen for all their experimentation were unsure of the final track, ‘Statelines’, as it is not credited on the sleeve. Without doubt the strangest thing they have ever recorded in their long career, it is certainly what might be described as “an acquired taste.” They needn’t have worried though. Spooky and creepily ambient, a peculiar merging of echoing drum beats ; wonky keyboards and guitars and indistinct, mumbled vocals, its melody convulses up and then drifts away. It could have been something that Magazine recorded as a B side or early Ultravox before John Foxx left the band, and , forceful and compelling, will haunt and stick with its listener for days. The EP is dedicated to Denzil’s father, who died in December of last year after a long illness. It is the most life-affirming of tributes. Nearly two decades on since they formed, the RepoMen sound as exciting and as consistently inventive as ever.

Track Listing:-
1 Parallel Schizophrenic
2 Brickface
3 Breathe
4 Ride
5 State Lines

Band Links:-

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John Clarkson speaks to Denzil Watson, the front man with durable Sheffield indie act RepoMen about 'Occasional Sensations', which is a documentary film about them, and their recent album, ‘I’m Only Doing This Because I Like Your Robot’
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