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Live how you listen

Mommy & Daddy

Live how you listen

Big Cat Records

Mommy and Daddy - Live How You Listen

Sometimes, you're left fumbling for something to say, aware that the only way you could make someone see how good an album is is to sit them down (or, in this case, stand them up) and play it. Over and over again.

And, if they don't get it? Try to feel sympathetic, rather than frustrated.

So...this is one of THOSE albums. The first thing that comes to mind is 'God, this is great'. The second is 'God, this is fucking fantastic'. There's an energy, a rawness and a twisted beauty about this that won't go on a page.

But I'll try:

I have to admit that it was the twee side of me that attracted me to this band. I knew nothing about them, but heard the name and expected something beautiful, fragile, achingly fey. Not quite. Anyone expecting lilting Camera-Obscura-style harmonies and gentle reflection is going to be left quaking in their cardie. Or, alternatively, pogoing like a madman, having completely forgotten why they wanted something gentle in the first place.

Mommy and Daddy are Vivian Sarrat and Edward Hallas, they come from New York and they drag a string of music critics behind them, all searching for superlatives (I'll join the queue then, shall I?).

So far so Strokes. So what's special?

It is hard to pin it down to just one factor. Perhaps its the way they play off each other - chanting, shouting, screaming or wailing over the guitar riffs and the electronic flashes. Perhaps its the combination of so many different influences - from PIL to Patrick Cowley - into a simple formula: a guitar and a synth, two voices, and a hell of a lot of power. Perhaps its in the rampant, thrusting energy. Its them all, and a special indefinable something.

The press release describes this as 'punk', and that's a beginning to them - but that's a disco beat in 'What Is The Function?'. 'Roundhouse Robot' sees the riff from the B52s' 'Rock Lobster' given the punk-rave treatment (oh yes, it does exist. If it didn't, it does now) and 'I Mean, Could He Buy Me This' has the feel of a spiky, scary surf song - 'Fun Fun Fun' for the fuck, fuck, fuck generation.

Lyrically, there's a lot of talk of sex here - 'X Factor' celebrates it, 'What Is The Function' bemoans the pointlessness of meaningless encounters. Other songs just celebrate music, and the power it possesses. 'Together' is a mosh-pit anthem if ever I heard one. Edmund Hallas screams 'We live how we listen/ Let's live how we listen', and you really should scream it back. Its only polite. 'Fill In The Lines' seems to suggest using music to transcend the emptiness of everyday life. None of it preaches, its all done with originality and wit and, frankly, it wouldn't matter if it wasn't. They could sing about buying baked beans and if it sounded like this it would still be great.

But they don't. This feels a little like a musical manifesto. 'Live How You Listen' seems like a demand. Do it with passion, and belief, and to the best of your ability. And remember to enjoy it.

Inevitably, they will be compared to other New York bands. Most of the rest can just get out of the way. Reasonable comparisons? Well, there's some Jack White in with Daddy's John Lydon and there's some early Patti Smith in Mommy. But alongside that there's also echoes of The Slits, Soft Cell, The Pixies, Elastica, Sleater-Kinney and Orbital.

And if that combination seems hard to imagine then you'll just have to buy the album to see what I mean. Maybe they over-play the 'we're from New York and we're painfully cool' card but this can be forgiven because, after all, they're from New York and they're painfully cool.

So...not twee then? Ooooohhhhhhhhhh no. Fast, furious and all the better for it. Forget the new Strokes album, it has already had its arse kicked.

Are they going to be big? Hey, I don't make predictions like that, you tell me.

In my head, at least, they're already huge.

Ian Anscombe





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