EXAMPLE 22 – ALBUM REVIEW

After sending off my questions to Nick Saloman, I continued listening to Example 22, the new Bevis Frond album, and wrote a tight three-hundred word review to follow up the interview. How organised was that? Assuming Nick came through (which he did, entertainingly and with astonishing promptness) I’d have a feature and a follow-up post in the bag. Smashing.

Except that, in a misguided attempt at efficiency, I deleted earlier versions of the interview questions… including the document with my album review. I looked high and searched low, even went back in time – but no joy. The document was gone.

So here is a stern test of Example 22. After full immersion in Frond-world for a couple of weeks, can the album excite me again as I sit to write, again, about a sprawling vinyl opus? Now that the thrill of initial flirtatious attraction has passed, will the relationship hold up to what feels rather like a day at the office? Let’s find out.

Example 22 lyric sheet

The album opens with mid-paced rocker ‘Are we nearly there yet’ which seems to beckon the classic childhood question into middle-age. Not so much impatience as desperation: In the words of Trower, ‘I can’t wait much longer’. Is the search for contentment? Or perhaps a running away from what is too ‘claustrophobic’. There is a lovely, lyrical guitar solo that evokes a pastoral escape — or maybe that is just me yearning to get away too. Nick Saloman’s songs often invite the listener to overlay their projections onto his enigmatic verses.

‘Waiting for Sinatra’ is the first of several songs that have a patina of mortality over the words, though belied here by the high energy of this straight-ahead rocker. Gout, throat nodules, hair loss. Getting old makes it hard to hold on to fantasies of the golden becoming. Neither Frank nor Godot will arrive to bring enlightenment to crepuscular middle age.

Though I love the committed psychedelic spray of Bevis Frond, it is the sprinkling of folk-rock songs that add a nourishing variety of flavour to albums that are usually chock full of good songs. ‘Longships’ is the first of these on Example 22. A terrific song with chiming guitar that, as the song-writer himself allowed, explores xenophobia and the real —or imagined— fear of invasion.

Side one rounds out with one of my favourites, ‘I blame the rain’, a crunching rock riff with brilliant soloing and great guitar effects. I imagine sitting down a couple of metal colleagues (you know who you are) and playing this at high volume. It just fucking rocks.

Organ adds a nice reedy texture to the uptempo ‘Hot sauce or nothing’. Think early Elvis Costello bopping his specs off and you’ll have the idea. A complete change of pace for the wistful electric ballad ‘Where is Egon Schiele’, described by Nick S as simply ‘falling into place’. A lovely, romantic guitar solo falls into place perfectly in this song.

I’ve written about the first six tracks on Example 22, though such is the consistency it would work equally well to have chosen a different sequence from the sixteen songs comprising the album. Psychedelic rock served generously, a smattering of musically introspective ballads, some folk-rock sparks and punk-ish belters and that’s another fine Bevis Frond album. The twenty-second, to be precise. As Nick has said he intends to continue writing songs and putting out an album when there is enough quality material, with a bit of luck there’ll be more Frond to come. I’ll have my pre-order in, for sure.

Bevis Frond Example 22 vinyl

Postscript

In the interview, Nick scuppered the theory that ‘Manual labour’ was about playing live rock and roll. Mulling it over with my backroom Bevis Boffin, we wonder whether it is about the transition from traditional hands-on manual labour jobs (and politics) to the thumb-twiddling automated digital (New Labour) age, with the associated losses of dignity, identity and direction.

As I don’t imagine the writer will enlighten us, here is the lyric for Vinyl Connection readers to offer their interpretation. Share in Comments, or take your understanding to Platform One Records in Hastings and tell Nick. He probably won’t spill the beans but at least you’ll have a nice day out and get to browse some interesting records.

MANUAL LABOUR

On the front line, Nick reporting

Out of coal tar, men are walking

Just conduit for your hang-ups

Semi-stand up, semi-tragic

What are we doing here? Manual labour

What are we doing here? Manual labour

An observer in the war zone

Staying neutral, lack of hormones

Gather fences for me to sit on

Ever shy once, never bitten

What are we doing here? Manual labour

What are we doing here? Manual labour

Put your feelings in a letter

Do it over, do it better

Take me back to the beginning

Thumbs revolving, digits spinning

What are we doing here? Manual labour

What are we doing here? Manual labour

bevis frond oct 15 2

16 comments

  1. I have been streaming this and am fast coming to the conclusion that I need to order the vinyl and then a long expensive fascination may follow.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good to hear, Neil!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lazy Bu**er you only reviewed the first 6 tracks! Job done though, you’ve made me want the LP – damn you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Result! I do hope you can snare a copy Joe, I really think the honesty and humanity of Nick’s stuff will work its magic on you.
      PS. It’s OK to say ‘Burger’ round here.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As a vegetarian the ‘B word’ is the very worst I can think of.

        I will try for some Bevis.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Unfortunately, complaints about the noise level stalled my investigation of ‘Manual labour’ but I have to conclude that, by track 14, ‘Example 22’ tempts twiddling of the dial with thumb and digits
    (even via YouTube and Logitech).

    Thanks VC.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bevis Frond albums are big by any measure, that’s true. I often listen to chunks. Still, complaints about noise are somehow comforting in our middle age, eh?

      Like

  4. If I believed in an interventions God I would kneel down and ask hm to keep the complaints coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. …bumped this album up a few places on that list, Bruce. Great work – splendid review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks James. Good bumping work!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Couldn’t bring myself to comment positively on a third Bevis post until I put my money where my fingers are, got off the pot, and pulled the trigger. So, with this one and White Numbers finally ordered and on their way to the land of the pharaohs, I am finally able to come back here and offer revolving thumbs up for another winning essay/advert. When Example 22 finally arrives some weeks hence, first thing I’ll do is sit down and turn up the volume on ‘I blame the rain’ to see if lives up to blue hype; will advise (smile).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Look, he says, holding up hands in surrender, you can have too much of a good thing. The Bevis saga wasn’t planned and probably would have been better spread across a few months rather than a couple of weeks, but I got enthused. What can I say.

      Funnily enough, though I love Frond albums, they are truly big and sometimes overwhelming and best digested over time; a suggestion I have signally failed to follow or model. What can I say.

      As for ‘I blame the rain’, as (it seems) the sole proselytiser for Saint Nick’s message of melancholic, psych-tinged folk-rock leavened ballad sprinkled noise Downunder, I will cheerfully refund your fan club membership if the song does not capture you in three listens. What can I say?

      Like

      1. While I was feeling a little tight budget-wise this month and therefore exploring the possibility of demanding my refund, it results that I am unable to do so in good conscience. It seems ‘I blame the rain’ has me hostage just as predicted (as does the rest of 22). You, good sir, have cracked the mystery of what excites this Victim’s pale blue blood.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Delighted that the pale blue is flowing Bevis’s way.
          Relieved that your conscience curtailed a refund enquiry. I do not know how to acquire shekles.
          Excited at the prospect of finding something else that hits the spot (I have a cunning plan, my lord…)

          Like

  7. […] No surprises here. The latest Bevis Frond album was a hands down winner. Having devoted more column inches to Nick Saloman’s music than any other artist this year, I’ll just drop in the link for those who may have missed the previous instalments. The album is called Example 22. […]

    Like

  8. […] column inches to Nick Saloman’s music than any other artist this year, I’ll just direct you to my review of Example […]

    Like

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