While we moan like owt then this good shop shuts
Well take the blame
No you don’t have the guts
While we moan like owt then a good shop shuts
We’d take the blame if we had the guts
For the money we never spent
The times we never went
This is how The Land, the first full-length album from Leeds, England-based band the Wind-up Birds, opens: with an indictment that blankets us all who have popped around to the nearest discount megastore in the name of convenience and saving a buck, then proceeded to moan about what a shame it is when a good locally-owned store is forced to close. You know right off that if The Land is going to leave you feeling anything, “comfortable” will not be among the emotional options.
The Wind-up Birds – named for Haruki Murakami’s novel The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – have been playing together for nearly a decade, and perhaps it’s best that they waited so long to get their first full album together because this is a strong showing. While the intense “There Won’t Always Be an England” is the immediate favorite for me, I’d hasten to point out the greatness of tracks like “Nostalgic for….”, “No People Just Cutouts”, the first single “Cross Country”, and so on.
Songs like “Good Shop Shuts” – quoted at the opening of this post – and “There Won’t Always Be an England” are written at a local level, they translate easily to American ears and can make you feel both better and worse that the problems in your backyard mirror problems in the backyards of people an ocean away, and that it’s not just you who is fed up to the back teeth with blind jingoism.
And behind the words, a musical frontline that many might mark as “post-punk” but the band have dubbed “noisy pop”, “cos in our heads we are making pop music, songs that people can sing and dance to, just a bit noisier.” But the emotional outcome is much closer to punk than ABBA, tattered and angry, and by no means mindless or bubblegum.
Everything about this album is compelling. Eat it up.