Monday, February 11, 2008

Geoff Westen: Vidiots - TUNE IN

Back in 2006 I gave a short review to Westen's previous album The Pigs - OINK and now have been sent a pre-release copy of the Vidiots - tune in release [and am now not really sure if Pigs & Vidiot are part of the title of these releases or the 'author' - I will credit them to Westen for simplicity]. That earlier release brought to mind 80s and 90s electropop and this album does again. There are a couple of direct nods - a Depeche modish sequences that Just can't get enough on She's so young or a New Order guitar line through Searching for love (8).

On the whole the music is driving, percussive and hooky: the title track opener (actually called Better get started) is an anthematic rocker with a guitar solo designed for air guitarists, as is the beaty Angry young man. Together uses synths and percussion to move it on before the celebratory sound of Action Man suggests a party (this track opened the Pigs album as Saturday Night). Another group that kept popping up in my mind was Godley and Creme - something about the percussion bed and processed vocals of Some of you girls, and even the theme, reminded me of Ismism, as did some vocal aspects of Don't stop the kiss and the use of percussion and horns. Women dominate has a salsa swing, while the restrained electropop of Friend or lover closes the album nicely. Perhaps the centrepoint of the album is Searching for love (track 8) which is a slow number, full of bells and a big sound and a guitar solo that reminds me of Fripp on Heroes and the slips into Queen.

Lyrically/thematically the album expresses a male view of alienation and love - Vidiots who are stuck in their room with no future, who may be together but are in a lost life, angry young jealous men, women who are temptresses 'who don't know when to stop' (i'm so scared'), who dominate men's lives, and boys confusion about whether you want to go all the way. Even the good times, like Saturday night parties, offer an opportunity to 'forget about depression' or to take Sally's mind off suicide. We have been watching the TV show Skins, and this album parallels the confusion and uncertainty seen in some of those characters.

Friend or lover is more complex, as I can't work out the gender of the person the song addresses nor the relational outcome, though I think its a threesome. And one song I haven't mentioned yet diverges both thematically and musically - She's so young is a ballad, a much slower number than anything else, and is sung by a 55 year old millionaire about a young woman wondering why she is so in love with him.

Full of hooks this is a pop/rock album with lyrical intelligence, that is entertaining and surprising - the sort of subversive product that gets you singing along but then pondering the lyrics and the lives depicted. But fun.

The album is available from March 25

More about Westen here -

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