Reviews - Week 46



Communique no.9

Matinee Records

"It's not enough to know the world is absurd and restrict yourself merely to pointing out that fact... It is wrong to expect a reward for your struggles. The reward is the act of struggle itself, not what you win. Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make the attempt. That's morality, that's religion, that's art, that's life'.

And THAT, if you ask me, is a dramatic over-simplification. But it looks neat in your sleeve notes.
It is with this forty year-old quote that Sportique announce the arrival of their Communique, setting themselves rather an ambitious task for the music that accompanies the packaging. Can they achieve what they promise? Well, it starts promisingly enough - 'The edgeware kick-back' bounces into the aural field, engaging with a punk guitar, a single chord on the organ and a postured, but effective, delivery. Music to pogo to, clutching your seventh pint of snakebite. The lyrics display a certain sense of humour, the track sounds good and the disaffected sneer is just right. If it feels a little contrived, well, they wouldn't be the first band to be a little contrived - I can cope with that, for a while.

The album - all seventeen minutes of it - continues in much the same vein. Humorous asides are interspersed with political commentary, delivered in a tone that seems just a little familiar.
Perhaps just a little too familiar.

A certain jungle-dwelling type, once more a media-whore - the sort Sportique could easily despise - is aped all too apparently here: John Lydon - the furious, rebellious, threatening and ultimately rather empty pop star who was destined, so many years later, to make novelty television.

Therein lies the major problem with this album. This sort of nonsense will only work once. When the cartoon anarchist is drawn again three decades later, the paucity of content behind the caricature is only too readily apparent.

There can be no doubting Sportique's sincerity. They're angry, they want to smash the system, they reject conformity and announce 'I won't conform to stereotype'. That's great, but do you actually have anything to offer besides nihilism? Are there any original thoughts here? Anything but undirected anger that I haven't heard before?
Sad to say, there isn't an answer. It is all catchy, radio-friendly (for the most part), easy to listen to, bouncy pop - if they changed their inflection, picked up a synth and dropped the pomposity there's potential for an indiepop-dancearama orientated career. What they aren't going to do, on the basis of this, is change the world, or even anyone's mind. Which is a shame for them, because it seems that that is what matters most.
If this was the first punk album you had ever heard, this might just make you question something about the world. It wouldn't give you an answer, or a direction, because it lacks either, but it could awaken something in you. Otherwise, you're confronted with another bunch of disillusioned dropouts howling their own 'No Future' and congratulating themselves on their attitude. Chumbawamba, without the samples; Jonathan Lydon, without the television career.

As they put it in the album's title track:

'We are the person sitting next to you/ With guns in our pockets and insurrection in our minds/ Spread the word/ We are getting closer.'

That's very nice dear - but would you mind moving up a little?
There's a whiff of something Rotten.

Ian Anscombe



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