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# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

This et Al - Baby Machine

  by Paul Raven

published: 4 / 4 / 2007

This et Al - Baby Machine
Label: FC Recordings
Format: CD


Superbly eclectic, constantly inventive and surprising debut album from new Leeds group This Et Al

This Et Al are a Yorkshire four-piece who have been compared to a slew of other influential acts. No one, it seems, can decide what exactly to make of them. 'Baby Machine' goes some way toward explaining why; they're one of those 'kitchen sink' bands. That's not an insult, by the way – although it could be. Here, it means that their songs contain a grab-bag of ideas and textures from a range of styles and scenes, as if they've done a drug-fuelled trolley-dash through one of the last remaining independent record stores in the country. Certain substantial chunks float to the top of the soup. The melodies and hooks are more than a mild nod in the direction of Bloc Party's 'Silent Alarm' – not a wholesale theft, but a blatant influence. Structurally, however, the closest comparison I can think of would be Oceansize – a very proggish architectural extrapolation of the classic quiet-loud-quiet dynamics that grunge left wailing on our doorsteps a decade and a half ago. To put that in real terms, you get shiny-clean plucked melodies during the verses, with a glowering faux-falsetto vocal over the top and tricky yet solid drum-work beneath. Just when you think you've got their measure, a huge bludgeoning slab of distorted chords leaps out like a side-street mugger, rifles the pockets of your brain and runs off, hurling insults over its shoulder. It's a game of contrasts, and This Et Al play it very well, balancing the foppish and pretentious arty side with occasional moments of pure extra-dimensional fury - heavy like concrete, not heavy like metal. And it's moody, too – not like your emo cousin, but in a way that reflects on the world around them, on a bitter broken Britain rife with misery and paranoia. Intelligent, introverted, even obtuse – the lyrics here are all these things at once, tackling the big questions without providing textbook answers, avoiding the tabloid world-views that offer a ready route to a Warholian fifteen minutes of fame. Music about council estates by people who aren't pretending to be from council estates – a breath of frost-fresh air in a shit-stinking corridor. It's not perfect, but then what album is? Débuts hailed as flawless are a time-bomb on the taste bus, and the glitches here show that the band have left themselves space to mature and grow. Some of the tracks outstay their welcome a little, or threaten to collapse under the weight of their own intricacy, but they're certainly not lacking ideas, nor the balls to do something more thoughtful than tick-tock indie pop. This is a Marmite album – some will love it, some will loathe it, and the reasons will often be the same on both sides of the argument. But if you're sick of play-it-safe bubblegum, a lengthy chew on 'Baby Machine' may provide you with the sustenance you've been missing.

Track Listing:-
1 The Loveliest Alarm
2 Wardens
3 Sabbatical
4 He Shoots Presidents
5 Of National Importance
6 Cabin Hum
7 You've Driven for Miles (And Not Remembered a Thing)
8 Catscan
9 Can You Speak European?
10 Pigs Make Children Sick
11 Transmit the Ends

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