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A Series of Very British Melodramas Labelled With Love.
It seems like a lifetime since I first heard The Persecuted’s self-titled 2015 debut album which I loved and quaintly described as ‘Gastro-Pub Rock’, so I was giddy with excitement when I opened the envelope and read the handwritten accompanying letter (remember them kids?) that came with this, their second disc BRITAINICARNA.
That was two days ago and if I tell you I sat outside my house last night at midnight, after a ten hour shift at work just so I could listen to the last minute of Pushing Me Away you will understand how much I love this one too
Opening track I Think We Need To Talk About Kevin begins in much the same way the previous album ended; a complex slice of family life encapsulated in a three minute Country-Pop song. Don’t get frightened by the word ‘Pop’ …..it’s only because the Persecuted use catchy melodies and actual ‘tunes’ to accompany their Kitchen Sink melodramas. ‘Kevin is about a teenager who sits alone in his bedroom ‘wacked out on cyber porn’ and his parents worry for him. Does that ring any bells with anyone? Hmmmmm; it’s a sad state of affairs but the Persecuted manage to tell this gripping story with grace and black humour.
Baring in mind the state of the world at the moment a song entitled Revolution could be quite scary and angry; but in these lads hands it’s a sad lament about someone like me (or you) who just shouts at the TV and pretty much leaves it at that.
While there’s an Alt. Country type ‘vibe’ to the Persecuted their sound and songs are quintessentially English, with absolutely no pretence at being American like so many of their contemporaries.
There is a definite Country ‘Twang’ to I Just Couldn’t Say It To Your face; and the theme of a coward trying to get out of a relationship is universal, as are all of the stories here; and Johnny Black’s droll voice makes it the very essence of what they have dubbed ‘Britainicana’.
Although these songs are perfect for AOR Radio; I doubt they will ever get played on that medium which is a loss to people everywhere; especially if Dropping Like Flies gets lost in the midst of time. While we’ve all moved on this ode to the death of David Bowie captures the feeling of embodiment seeing Ziggy on TOTP that first night gave a whole generation then 40 years later the utter sadness at the Dame’s passing.
There’s a song here called Desperate Housewife that is disorienting in the way a man articulately manages to capture the sense of loss and decline that a young woman/mother feels in her two bedroom flat. The only other song I can equate it to is Mothers Little Helper by The Rolling Stones from half a century ago and I defy you not to hear this and not think of someone in your circle of family and friends and then have a tear in your eye.
Those Twangtastic guitars rip it up again on Mid Life Crisis; with Echoes of The Waco Brothers the Persecuted nod to Chuck Berry with the chorus of “Go Johnny Go!” as they sing about a married man who “buys a motorbike and grows a goatee beard” as he searches for his long lost youth; but only finds heartache. If I ell you I checked the album to see if this was a Springsteen/Bragg co-write (it’s not btw) you will realise what it sounds like.
On a similar tip is the quirkilly titled Natasha Kaplansky Keeps Singing The Blues; where the singer is fed up with “getting checked for lumps and bumps….but still waiting for a heart attack” and because of all of the bad news he’s stopped reading the papers and watching the news because ” Natasha Kaplansky Keeps Singing The Blues.” Again it’s a Universal topic; but given a very British theme, especially when Black lists all the fun and food stuffs he’s no longer allowed.
Where do I start in picking a ‘RMHQ Favourite’ when just about every song here resonates with me in some way; my first choice was Pushing Me Away but Mrs. Magpie may read this review so I will toss a coin between Proving The Doubters Wrong of which 90% really, really could be about me! And the other is probably the Byrds inspired Death on the Dance-floor which closes the album. A very modern take on a life long fear for me and I presume many men out there.
The Persecuted are a bunch of musicians based in East London who all have other jobs to pay the rent; and sadly have to do this malarkey for love alone, which is a huge shame as the quality of songwriting is exceptional and musicianship this good only comes from years of hard work and I, for one would like to see them get even 10% of the fame and fortune they deserve.
Released May 1st 2017