The Isle of Man has a scene, can you believe it? The Isle of fuckin' Man. Home of giant water-wheels, mountain railways and George Formby riding in the T.T. races. And you know what else, it's excellent. If you thought that the island, flung disparagingly into the midst of the Irish Sea, neither English, nor Scottish, nor Irish was something of a nonentity, a haven for tax exiles, retirees, and old folk with blue rinses and tweed sports jackets then think again. There is an active, revolutionary movement afoot, a thriving subculture. The islands young are mobilising, and the soundtrack to all this is the voice of its leader. And its leader is Weirdo.
Weirdo is a sonically superb three piece who function on spontaneity. They write and record to catch moments in time, they don't over elaborate, they keep it simple. Little planning and even less alteration may sound like taking a chance, but if life is worth living then chances are worth taking, otherwise all we'd have would be Britney. And we don't want that, do we?
Kicking off with 'Better Smile for Fear of Crying' a pure, sweet melody slowly emerges from the cacophony, gradually building alongside the steady, regimented drum beat to a mournful, self-assuring claim of 'everything'll be o.k.'. There are layers of sound upon layers of sound, and it makes for a lush bedrock. The grinding, solid fuzz of guitar provides a perfect host for the impassioned pleas of the vocals. The piece has an undoubted feel of 'Seamonsters' era Wedding Present. The noise, the buried melodies, the self doubt and self belief. It's all there.
'Gently Weird' is far from gently weird, although it is gentle. Closer than a distant cousin to the Velvet Underground, with echoes of 'Pale Blue Eyes' and 'Femme Fatale', but perhaps that's just the acoustic foundation, overlain with rudimentary, rough and raw guitar, caressed by a touch of reverb. And the subtle Hammond organ at the end arrives at the perfect moment, and compliments the vocals and guitar sublimely. Whereas the opening track was a wall of layered sound, this is a stripped back four track affair which works perfectly.
By the time we get to the fantastically titled 'Vileda Sonic Grandma' it's obvious that there is more to Weirdo than a straightforward guitar band. This is a monumental message from another planet, a luscious track, complimented by a plethora of bleeps, squeaks, and witty witty scratches. It shows a diversity that few are brave enough to fraternise with, let alone embrace. It sounds like something picked up on a N.A.S.A. radar, surging through the nothingness of outer space from somewhere we'll never get to. Not so much a 'take us to your leader' but a 'Hey Hey, We're The Weirdos, from Planet Weird, and we love you'.
'Chinese Whispers' hints at Weirdos inbuilt impatience, "..as if standing in line was what we got paid for..". A fairground tale of youthful angst. This is their 'Rusholme Ruffians', not only because of the story, but because it mentions Waltzers. Musically it's a little gem of a subversive pop ballad, and like 'Gently Weird' is over far too soon. I'm looking forward to the twelve inch extended version with baited breath – whatever happens in the next verse deserves to be heard.
Closing the E.P. is the almost industrial 'Weirdo Love You', a return to the layered sound. Intelligently crafted, intensely produced, and lyrically menacing, it is a sonic h-bomb sent to leave you uneasy in your armchair.
Weirdo may well love us, but they love what they do even more, and rightly so. They have produced an E.P. (but to be honest, it's more of a mini-L.P.) of monumental proportions. Influences are hard to nail, yes they're that unique, but if pushed I'd reluctantly draw a line between Malkmus, the Velvet Underground, Orbital, The Wedding Present, The Clash, Radiohead, and, well, god knows who else. Either it's all in there, or none of it's in there, I'm not really sure. Weirdo are either an amalgamation of all that is good about the last twenty years of music, or they are what will be good about the next. Intelligent, energetic, anthemic, elegiac, delicate, sophisticated, introspective, apoplectic, melodic, menacing, subtle, it's all here.
I have seen the future of rock and roll, it's Manx, it's mad, and it's dangerous to know; but most of all it's Weirdo.
You can downlaod Weirdo's 'Gently weird' from here. 'Hey, Hey We're The Weirdos' 6 track E.P is available mail order direct from Weirdo for £4 (includes packing and postage). Please make cheques payable to M. Reynolds and send to: Weirdo, c/o 31 Castle Mona Avenue, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM2 4EA.