# 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

Robert Rotifer - They Don’t Love You Back

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 25 / 9 / 2018

Robert Rotifer - They Don’t Love You Back
Format: CD


Remarkable solo album from Robert Rotifer, one of the records in WIAIWYA's new 77 project each consisting of a 77 minute track, upon which the Austrian-born singer-songwriter who has been Kent-based for the last 20 years reflects how post-Brexit he no longer has guaranteed status in the UK

Robert Rotifer’s home in Canterbury is only a short drive from UKIP’s spiritual home on the Kent coastline. And, while the records he makes there show an intimate knowledge of British music, a twang in his accent gives away that Rotifer was born in Austria, not Kent. Two decades as a British taxpayer and two British-born children don’t change the fact that, in a Brexit world, Robert Rotifer no longer has guaranteed status in the UK. He has found himself in a country that doesn’t love him back. Before the vote, his records – sometimes recorded alone and sometimes with a band – had hinted at the tensions that the Brexit referendum would bring into sharp focus. He’d complained at political apathy (“even all of the lefties that I used to know couldn’t really be bothered to have a go”) but also acknowledged the retreat away from activism after the million marchers in 2003 “couldn’t stop the war… and then we all withdrew.” Since the vote, he has watched on with alternating despair and bemusement. There have been occasional moments of hope (remarkably, the Tory-stronghold of Canterbury rejected its Brexit-loving local MP in 2017), but as Exit Day looms, Brexit-Britain is still blaming Brussels for insisting on treating us like we are planning to leave. The petty and pointless decision to charge European-born ‘migrants’ £65 to apply for “settled status” feels symbolic of the message the Government is trying to convey: you are an administrative inconvenience. All of this was on his mind when Rotifer responded to an invitation from John Jervis. ‘Jerv’ is a stalwart of the London gig scene and the man behind the WIAIWYA label, and asked for a contribution to his 77 project (seven bands, seven 77 minute songs, all released on the 7th day of the 7th month). Rotifer’s plan was to work quickly and capture the first idea, merging these ideas into a single track as he worked. Though he does briefly detour into a tribute to his label boss, this is unapologetically a record about Brexit. On the cover, a cute picture of his family’s rabbits, who you “always think love you back and then they eat all the most beautiful flowers when you aren’t looking.” Feelings continue to run high and social media has become a no-go zone for many. But as the formal negotiations between DExEU and Task Force 50 rumble on, we are all doing our best to avoid the deeper questions. Once we have disentangled ourselves from our allies and trading partners, redrafted our entire statute book and implemented an elaborate customs infrastructure, what will all of this achieve? What happens to all the people in limbo on the wrong side of the new UK/EU divide? This record isn’t an attempt to answer those questions, but to convey what it feels like to be affected by them. The very nature of this exercise, a 77 minute single track, is an acknowledgment that this isn’t being aimed at a mass audience. I doubt Rotifer envisages this gesture changing many minds. Instead it captures the mood of the nation – snippets of the news drift alongside the voices of EU citizens wondering what this all means for them. If Brexit means anything at all, it means a strange blur of bureaucratic jargon, misunderstood concepts and unleavened sentiment. A telling moment comes early on. Rotifer describes Britain choosing to become a ‘Third Country’. That’s not a phrase you hear much on the news – but, unwrapped from the nationalist chest beating, it is what Brexit really means. Within international trade law, the UK will no longer be a trusted partner of the EU, but an outlier on its immediate border, which the EU will be legally obligated to treat with suspicion. Is this album a sigh of despair? Or a warning? Still, I don’t expect to hear ‘They Don’t Love You Back’ played on an anti-Brexit protest. It’s too dreamy for that. But there are two groups it might touch a nerve with – firstly, those on the left who see Brexit as meaning freedom from international capitalism. Perhaps they will pause to consider whether the slight chance that Brexit could be aligned to their cause is really worth the trade-offs. Secondly, those who have simply disengaged with Brexit, on the grounds that it just makes people too angry. Perhaps this will encourage them to take a closer interest. If you fall into either of those camps, this is a record to add to your shopping list. A third group to consider are those who have been tempted into buying the full whack of seven 77 minute songs from seven artists. What will fans of the other six acts think? I predict they will soon be wanting to explore the rest of Rotifer’s back catalogue. They’ll find passages of punk-tinged psychedelia, glam-influenced alt-rock, nostalgic indie pop and fingerpicked acoustic guitar. These are blended together with repeated motifs, found sounds and extended instrumental passages. The effect is not unlike flicking between Marc Riley’s 6 Music show and Resonance FM – but it holds your attention. Find a spare hour and seventeen minutes, open a bottle of tariff-free European wine and enjoy – while you can.

Track Listing:-
1 They Don't Love You Back

Band Links:-

Post A Comment

your name
ie London, UK
Check box to submit

digital downloads



About Us (2019)
Bleak but passionate reflection on Brexit from Robert Rotifer, who although Austrian-born has spent the last two decades living in the UK
Not Your Door (2016)

most viewed articles

most viewed reviews

Pennyblackmusic Regular Contributors