Tuesday 16 October 2012

The Distractions - The End Of The Pier

Album review by KevW

Dedicated crate-diggers and explorers of British independent music's past might find their ears pricking up with a mention of Manchester's The Distractions, along with those who were on board for their first incarnation which dissolved back in 1981 after the release of a solitary album, 'Nobody's Perfect'. Despite major label backing it failed to take off as well as hoped, although it's now considered a cult classic. Their sound was never really designed for the commercial market, and prior to signing with Island the band had released singles on indie labels including Factory. In the thirty-plus years since, various past members have been involved in other bands (including The Fall, naturally), until in 2010 the core partnership of singer Mike Finney and guitarist Steve Perrin reconvened to revisit tracks they'd been working on many years ago.

The sessions led to not just the completion of some of these tracks but to new material as well, and now, two years on, The Distractions finally have a second album available. 'The End Of The Pier' moves on from their debut without particularly trying to update their sound and other players have connections to like-minded bands including The Only Ones and the also recently revived June Brides. They've unquestionably mellowed slightly with age but their style remains very much in the vein of post-punk and early indie, as is evident on the excellent opening track 'I Don't Have Time' with its jangly strumming and snappy rhythm section. Lyrically there is a maturity with some sentimental and world-weary themes. Not least on 'Wise', a beautiful and reflective track that ponders the passed time with lines like "time has been gentle with me, you have not fared so well... the girls all used to fall for the twinkle in those eyes... I think we best get home now to our wives".

'Girl Of The Year' follows suit and this sentimentality is handled expertly so as not to sound corny, and the softer tracks sit comfortably alongside the more upbeat numbers such as 'Boots' and 'The Summer I Met You'. There's a soulful aspect to their stripped back set-up thanks to the assured and matured vocals, each of the slower songs sound anthemic but never overblown, making this feel a bit like an album's worth of closing tracks. 'When It Was Mine', 'Man Of The Moment' and the aforementioned 'Wise' all sound like curtain closers, but ultimately that accolade goes to the aptly titled 'The Last Song'. All told 'The End Of The Pier' is incredibly personal and at times emotionally stirring; like some old friends gathering for one last hurrah, which it may well be. You'd hope though, that following this successful reunion they press ahead with a third record. It would be a big shame if this talent were to get distracted for another three decades.

The Distractions' website

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