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Heist - Births, Deaths and Marriages

  by John Clarkson

published: 26 / 4 / 2023

Heist - Births, Deaths and Marriages
Label: Gordon Giltrap and Paul Brett
Format: CD


Outstanding third album and first is seventeen years from orchestral pop act Heist, which reflects on the impact of history on all our lives and how it continues to have a hold and effect on the present

In 2005, after recording two albums. husband-and-wife and Heist members Mike Targett (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, zither) and Allison Thomson (vocals, trumpet, tambourine) moved to a farmhouse in France, where they ran a recording studio, raised poultry and brought up two children. Now after a long hiatus, which has combined with their return to the UK and a new base in Ramsgate, Heist are back with a third album of orchestral pop. They have always done big themes. Their debut album ‘Friday Night at the Trabi Races’ got its name from an illegal set of car races which ran in the still communist Hungary in the 1980s, and took as its main theme escape. ‘A Shopkeeper Will Not Appear’ was about a Walter Mitty-type shopkeeper who evaded reality and drudgery by taking himself off into fantasy worlds, and was about the power and importance of dreams. ‘Birth, Marriages and Deaths’, Heist’s first album in seventeen years, is similarly broad-themed, and is about the impact of history on all our lives and how it continues to have a hold and effect on the present. Allison Thomson’s dad is an elusive presence on the record. He died young, and she never met him. He appears on the front cover, amidst a collage of photos which also include snaps of a wedding, a seaside holiday and soldiers in the trenches, in a polaroid taken in approximately in 1978, standing on a pillar outside a massive block of flats, punching his arms exuberantly in the air. He is there again as well, in the inner sleeve and embossed on the CD. ‘Births, Marriages and Deaths’ is a merging of the personal with the panoramic, the kaleidoscopic with the intimate, and real instruments and symphonic synth sounds. It combines, as does all of Heist’s work, clever, thought-provoking lyrics with sharp musical ideas. It opens in a klaxon of sparkling sound with the self-deprecating ‘And Yet It Moves!’ in which the band heralds its own return after such a long absence (“And now like Lazarus I’m back to tell you all/Like lazy Lazarus I’m back to tel you all”). Single ‘We Are The Infidels’, with its chiming, bittersweet pop sound, has a similar element of satire, poking fun at the more oppressive elements of religion (“Lust, vanity are the guiding lights of humanity/They shine a light sublime, and how they lead us well.”). ‘Gas And Air’ begins as an acoustic folk pop number with Targett gently plucking his guitar and also features elegiac trumpet from Thomson, before surging up into an orchestral wig-out. It reflects on all our predecessors have left us with and their legacy (“And they gave us starter-homes, stepping-stones, the art of conversation*). The hymnal title track provides us with the most poignant moment. It weighs up how it is often the small memories, the deeply personal ones which have the most impact, and often give us the best moments in our lives (“But I remember a summer’s day/Of which there’s no record made/All of our friends still there/All laughing without a care/The sum of a life was this less births, deaths and marriages.”) Lastly there is ‘The Quiet Life’. Targett and Thomson have shared joint vocals sung in unison throughout, but here he drops away and she takes the lead, raging against the dying of the light, embracing the world and its wealth of opportunities and concluding the quiet life is not for her (“No, it’ll never be the Quiet Life”) as the album finishes in a titanic rush of noise. Special mention must be made too of drummer and percussionist Tony Oudot, whose playing runs from the muscular to the minimalist throughout. ‘Births, Marriages and Deaths’ is both a technicolour and an intimate experience, reflecting above all upon what makes us alive.

Track Listing:-
1 And Yet It Moves!
2 Alfred Mynn
3 We Are the Infidels
4 Gas and Air
5 A Man Quite Ordinary
6 Happy Families
7 Births, Deaths and Marriages
8 French Lessons
9 The Diary of a Nobody
10 The Quiet Life

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Interview (2022)
Heist - Interview
Mike and Allison Targett from cinematic pop act Heist speak to John Clarkson about their first album in eighteen years, ‘Births, Marriages and Deaths’, and their appearance at the Pennyblackmusic Bands Night at the Water Rats in London on the 10th September.
Interview (2013)
Interview (2004)
Interview (2002)


With the black watch and Moon Under Water, The Water Rats, London, 31/3/2022 (2022)
Heist - With the black watch and Moon Under Water, The Water Rats,  London, 31/3/2022
We preview our next London gig which will take place at The Water Rats on the 31st March with Heist, the black watch and Moon Under Water.


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