Future Bible Heroes – Partygoing (Merge) CD REVIEW

Future+Bible+Heroes+futurebiblehearoes_bpTHE VERY DOWN-to-earth and English-sounding Future Bible Heroes come across lyrically as if their name suggests their upcoming praise will be achieved through the extinguishment of the Bible altogether, not the embracement thereof. The droll delivery of half-Phil Oakey/half-Neil Hannon vocalist Stephen Merritt gives hope for little positive resolvement either way. The mechanical new wave/disco atmosphere and airy shared lead vocals of Claudia Gonson do little to temper the over-riding ‘keep your kids out of my way but if things get too bad there’s always alcohol’ approach to life here.

However, I was quickly aware of an honesty that’s really on to something. And no, rather than slash my wrists, the monotone moans atop the quirky bleeps and blips made me want to laugh.

In fact, without ever seeing a photo of Stephen Merritt, his spherical baritone provided me with a fully fleshed-out caricature of a 6-ft-6-inch overly skinny guy in winkle-pickers who has shoulder-length scraggly black hair and likes to smoke a lot. Boy was I wrong. Upon searching I just found an unexcitable guy with little tolerance of fools, whose demeanour unfortunately garners an equal amount of column inches as his music. But we only care about the latter here, right?

FBH_Collection_CVRSo, a real word skill and overall lack of pretension holds this together. Colourful rhymes and disparate conceptual lyric couplings keep your attention in the manner of an Elvis Costello. Lines like “I’ll wear silk pyjamas, in sleeping mask in black, and you will wear a mumu ala Roberta Flack” made me realise I wasn’t dealing with throwaway ditties here, regardless of how short some of the songs are. Merritt’s emotionless singing coupled with the brisk moves from song to song gave the feel of the Residents’ Commercial Album, a 1980 work containing pieces no longer than 60 seconds each, for those unaware.

Partygoing and its quirky machine whinges definitely bring the late ’70s/early ’80s Coldwave to mind. And re. the guilty pleasure of the 1980 hit ‘Partygoing’ sometimes alludes to, I guess even blindfolded I could find Merritt in the kitchen at parties. PETER KEARNS

Sound = 3.5/5
Music = 3.5/5

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