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Extradition Order - Kennedy

  by Adrian Janes

published: 5 / 7 / 2015

Extradition Order - Kennedy
Label: Jezus Factory
Format: CD


1960's Washington and 21st century Warrington clash on third album from alternative/garage rock outfit, Extradition Order

Like the accompanying booklet’s artful recreation of historic photographs of John and Robert Kennedy, the songs on ‘Kennedy’ function as a series of snapshots that impressionistically trace the brothers’ career arc, from the first stirrings of political ambition (‘Founding Father’) to the grim aftermath of their assassinations (‘Nixon ’68’). Extradition Order shadow Alastair Harper’s intriguing lyrics with a music greatly at odds with the brothers’ suave image, much of it rough and rambunctious, like an updated English equivalent to the kind of racket being hammered out in American garages during the era of their power. Specifically, it’s sounds of Northern England that come to mind (the band began in Warrington). Synth tones variously evoke the Human League and OMD. One branch of the songs (e.g. ’Boy In Uniform’, ‘I Love an Eyesore’ ) is Fall-like in their playing of sophisticated styles (funk and disco) in an untutored fashion that is still somehow appealing. But on these and later tracks like ‘Killing Presidents’ vocalist Jeremy Walton lacks control, too often achieving little but a hoarse yelp. From its ramshackle beginnings, the album’s first outstanding track is ‘Inauguration’. Like a tolling bell, massed voices intone the word “sometimes” over clamorous, phased drums, as if commenting on the samples from JFK’s high-flown 1961 speech as they penetrate the miasma of sound. That this can be heard as both deeply sad for its expression of idealism during the Cold War, and deeply sardonic (Kennedy himself certainly did plenty to keep the political temperature icy) shows how powerful a simple musical idea can be. Apart from the Fall, the other strand suggested is the music of Joy Division and New Order. The unnerving atmosphere collectively created on ‘Like a President’ makes it a song almost worthy of a place on ‘Unknown Pleasures’, while an effectively spare, Sumner-esque guitar runs through ‘Founding Father’ and ‘Bobby’. The latter builds to an unforgiving climax where Walton’s coarse roaring is perhaps meant to expose what lay beneath the Kennedys’ gleaming surface, both vanity (“The glory of me”) and isolation (“It gets lonelier now/They chop off all of our heads/And I get angrier now”). This same vocal style is employed on closer ‘Nixon ’68’; combined with lavish phasing, it suggests an even more manic confidence. Whom the gods would destroy… ‘Kennedy’ provides a mixed legacy, like its namesake. It’s typified in ‘Rosemary’, concerning the Kennedys’ incarcerated and lobotomised sister, where the lyrics are delivered in the manner of a strangulated Tom Petty. Yet the playing is good and those lyrics (“Living without dignity is how she’s been living since she was born/She would love a better way, but no-one will take her home”), are especially moving. Some may prefer this more rough-hewn side of Extradition Order, but for me it’s the more considered tracks that offer real satisfaction. Yet maybe theirs is the truest way to evoke Kennedy and the messy world of politics: a nuclear arms race and civil rights, noise and melody.

Track Listing:-
1 Boy in Uniform
2 I Love an Eyesore (Lbj '60)
3 Founding Father
4 Rosemary
5 Sam Rayburn
6 Inauguration
7 Like a President
8 Madame Defarge
9 Bobby
10 Killing Presidents
11 Nixon '68

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