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Lollipop Train - Junior Electric Magazine

  by Laura Branch

published: 17 / 12 / 2001

Lollipop Train - Junior Electric Magazine
Label: Siesta
Format: CD


This is the penultimate instalment in a series of fantasy pop concept albums which have come on the Siesta label offshoot – Reverie. The albums, released between September 1998 and September 2000 , c

This is the penultimate instalment in a series of fantasy pop concept albums which have come on the Siesta label offshoot – Reverie. The albums, released between September 1998 and September 2000 , comprise together a menagerie of songs designed to appeal to the child within, and are about “bears, tigers, candyfloss, orange marmalade, and sunshine”. Yey! Such fantasy pop explores the characteristic facets of the childhood psyche (oh yes indeedy!) – innocence, surreality, confusion, and an unending love of the greatest yet scariest children’s film ever – “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. The result of this Willy Wonka style duality is that the album is at once sweetly naïve and eerie – a bit like clowns, and talking dolls which chant in supposedly angelic voices “I want to play” – fun but immensely scary. After being hesitantly welcomed into the world of Lollipop Train by singer Angie Tillett with some crisply enunciated vocals, and asked if you’d like a strawberry, you’re catapulted into “I Want it Now”, the song from Willy Wonka sung by the epitome of bratdom – Veruca Salt, who pays homage to pester power. Angie captures perfectly that whiney tone we all adopted as children in order to get our own way, and rightly so I might add! When you’re thrust ('scuse the pun), however, into the gentle, understated “Mr Bizarro” – “he’s the man who changed his gender”, then you begin to see how this isn’t your straightforward child pop album. Thankfully, the power of the xylophone prevails, particularly so on “Johnny Johnny” where the twinkly xylophones, gentle guitars and element of Esquivel style space age pop evoke nursery rhyme lurve. Groovy. “Theme from “Daisies”” adequately fulfils the spooky quota with an almost tribal beating of drums being interspersed by a kazoo, which even the timid sprite that I am, I admit is slightly less frightening. For those with more oddball tastes we have a cover of Frank Zappa’s “Wowie Zowie” which sounds, I presume, nothing like the original . At least I can’t imagine Mr Zappa making music that sounds like this – all very 1950’s American diner, like a scene from a more idyllic “Grease”. If you’re looking, however, for a bit of stylised modern day psychedelia without the LSD but undoubtedly with lashings of MSG then perhaps take an aural peek at the title track which is beautifully nonsensical and illogical – beating even King Lear in full out deranged mode. It seems they have spliced together a recipe for Sunday lunch with various other bits and pieces resulting in bizarre lyrics such as “…even people who think they don’t like parsnips are generally conceded to have been artistically dry for years…” Hmmm. While Ms Tillet continues her monologue apace, Mr Bass Player and Mr Guitarist play the same hypnotic little sequence over and over again. Phew! The oober-retro keyboards help to transport you to a tea dance in Blackpool and the xylophones, well, no song of the indie pop variety is complete without a smattering of its sparkly magic. Talking of such magic, the album ends with the suitably oddly titled “Variation on a Keyring” which has all the qualities of a lullaby – mellow and serene but with a sinister alien sound that hums in the background just so you don’t relax too much… If this album was a GM modified cartoon it would be the Poddingtom Peas meets Dungeons and Dragons. Oh yes, childhood innocence has never been so scary.

Track Listing:-
1 Strawberry
2 I Want It Now
3 Junior Electric Magazine
4 Johnny Shopping
5 Banana Milkshake
6 Mr Bizzaro
7 Janet's Birthday Party (Hipster)
8 Holiday In Malta
9 Theme From Daisies
10 Wowie Zowie
11 Presents Prizes Sweets & Surprise
12 Johnny Johnny
13 Let's Imagine
14 Variation On A Keyring

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