The current political climate that we find ourselves submerged within is wearing us thin; we are weathered by the threat of terror, financial fears and diplomatic fabrications on a daily basis. The punk revolt of the Seventies may now be something that is occluded within the history books and manifestos of yore, however, its ethics, delusions and artistic temperament still inspire under our sardonic times.
After the successes of the satirical inculcations of “How To Reduce The Chances Of Being A Terror Victim”, XX Teens precociously stepped out of the underground art scene with their impassively sagacious tongue-in-cheek edifies in order to release their debut LP Welcome To Goon Island.
Heralding from the Art School tradition of creative invention (the core of the quintet meeting at college in Southend), their graduating album is not for the aurally blinkered. As is art, it is emancipated and free from the trammels of everyday thinking and traditional musical arrangements, illuminated by colour, veracity and versatility.
‘The Way We Were’ opens with a settling, glittering haze of illusory harp arrangements before breaking into a solid rhythm section, staccato guitars leads and vocal nostalgia. The oeuvre of simple drum timings and driving bass lines are a common foundation for the album’s milieu, allowing spatterings of idiosyncratic guitars and bombastic musical additions in order to beguile and perplex their audience.
The perpetually changing rhythms and haunting electronic engineering that cascades through ‘Round’; the dub cadence and horn section of ‘Ba (Ba-Ba-Ba)’; and the animated production of ‘My Favourite Hat’ do not make for the easiest of listens, however, do intrigue and endear with the XX Teens willingness to experiment with all manner of sound and vision.
Single selections ‘Onkawara’ and ‘Only You’ add for stability amid a spurious and eclectic eulogy of obeisance to the middling listener, along with the Beatles via Mighty Boosh psychedelic rise and fall of the synth drenched ‘Sun Comes Up’.
The apoplectic and loquacious Mark E. Smith-inspired vocal spats are intrinsic to the fluidity of the track listing; however, as charismatic as they may be, at times they can stutter and stumble too far into a charitable The Fall memorabilia collection.
Welcome To Goon Island has been described as a metaphor for modern day Britain, and in some respects this is true: scattered and unsure at times, it bumbles under the hegemonic decadence, influences and ideals of its forefathers; however it does show glimmers of hope, pride and liberal thinking (such as the spoken word poetry and political activism of album closer ‘For Brian Haw’). Welcome To Goon Island is, as most art, a statement: what some may see as enticing and innovative, others will no less view its form as ostentatious and bewildering.