Record Review: Dalek i Love You [part 1]

Man In The Moon ‎| UK | CD | 2017 | MITMCD24

Dalek i Love You: Dalek i Love You UK DLX RM CD [2017]

  1. Holiday In Disneyland
  2. Horrorscope
  3. Health And Happiness
  4. The Mouse That Roared
  5. Dad On Fire
  6. Ambition
  7. Lust
  8. 12 Hours of Blues
  9. Sons Of Sahara
  10. Africa Express
  11. Would You Still Love Me
  12. These Walls We Build
  13. Horrorscope [inst. ver.]
  14. Masks = Licenses
  15. The Angel + The Clown
  16. Heaven Was Bought For Me
  17. 12 Hours Of Blues [dub]

Well, that didn’t take long! Last month, I was writing about this much-needed reissue of the second Dalek i Love You album on CD and within hours our good friend Echorich told me it was ordered and with my name on it; don’t make a move. Well, yes sir! Throw me in that briar patch! So a few weeks later it’s in my Record Cell and we aren’t wasting any time in reviewing it. Hint: it’s amazing, quintessential Post-Punk.

From the first few seconds it’s apparent that this second incarnation of Dalek i Love You was a far cry from the band of the first album. Only Alan Gill remained from the initial lineup. This time he was aided and abetted by Gordon Hon and Kenny Peers as well as Keith Hartley. The barely there introverted Enoism of the debut had become a cracking Post-Punk contender. Lead off track “Holiday In Disneyland” was a chattering Post-Punk funk track with a drum machine, a cut-up structure, and femme BVs, with the one stab at chart normality being the incongruous slap bass that proliferated at the time sitting amid everything like a fat, contented cat in a room full of frantic chickens who were freaking out. The final third on the song was in dub, because you can’t take these things too far! Gordon Hon’s vocals sounded not a hop, skip, and a jump away from what Carl Marsh was doing with Shriekback at the same time, so how can we say “no?”

And then for something completely different! “Horrorscope” was another single track with Keith Hartley singing. The number was galloping synthpop with fey lead vocals paired with robust call and response backing vocals. It was as vibrant and peppy as someting that basically left-field could ever hope to be. The batty lyrics seemed to be actual horoscopes set to energetic music.

Then it was time for another dark turn with “Health + Happiness.” Gordon Hon took the mic agin and the female backing chorus provided the declamatory title lyric to the proceedings over a subtle Linn beat that rambled admirably; difficult for a drum machine. The guitars featured nice open electric chords blended with acoustic seasoning.

If “The Mouse That Roared” has any connection to the 50s satirical novel and comedy movie, it’s beyond my ability to decipher the whys and wherefores, but I can’t imagine that title signifying anything else. That said, the track was appropriately batty with the intro being provided by a phalanx of kazoos [possibly processed]. Kenny Peer’s vocals here resembled nothing so much as the sound of Andy Bell yet to come, four years later. The song’s elegant coda gave way to a return of the kazoo army sounding almost elegant before dissolving into an ambient synthbed.

Side one ended with the appropriately incendiary “Dad On Fire,” which significantly upped the “delightfully bonkers” factor the previous song trafficked in. The ladies’ chorus gave this one a sharp hook with girlish “mummy/daddy/mummy/daddy” BVs over rhythmic pizzicato “strings” and Gordon Hon’s stentorian vocals. Elsewhere, this track took the cake for including animalistic snarling… twice! A first in all of the thousands of song’s I’m familiar with.

“Ambition” was the third track from the album pulled as single material, and like “Horroscope” more than “Holiday In Disneyland,” this one came close to sounding “pop” due to the more familiar sounding track elements. The ladies BVs delivered another barbed hook with this tune’s “look good, get smart, smell nice, work hard” chorus. Kenny Peers and Keith Hartley shared the lead vocals here in the only time they combined singers. I loved the random sounding voice over inserts interjected into the song that added to its splintered, enervated vibe.

The album was two thirds complete, and finally Alan Gill made an appearance at the mic. The guy held this whole thing together but selflessly spread the vocals among a small crew of singers, but I have to admit, his generosity is what made this album really “sing” for me. I love bands with multiple vocalists, and this disc stretched that conceit to its limits. The first album was so redolent of “Another Green World” but given nothing but Gill’s slight, airy vocals, the whole thing tended to float off into the ether for my ears. Gill was far more effective here as one voice among many. “Lust” featured heraldic horns in its intro [it makes sense if you think about it for a half-second] and featured a proto-acid-house synth sound in the coda and Gary Barnacle’s dubbed out sax interjections.

Gill also took the forefront on “12 Hours of Blues” which in opposition to the title was the only reggae skank here, albeit with incongruous added smooth sax fills, again courtesy of Barnacle. The Linn was banished here for a live drummer; Drummie Zeb of Aswad. The whole last minute of this one was in dub.

In the copious liner notes in this CD, Paul Lester of Uncut fame interviewed Alan Gill and he revealed that had the band maintained for another album, maybe it would have all been in the vein of the last two numbers here, which he depicted as “Pink Floydian.” As much as I enjoy the radical eclectisicm of this one, I can see value also in pursuing such a tactic of coherence. “Sons Of Sahara” featured mildly psychedlic animal sounds [possibly sampled] over a tribal drum loop with Kenny Peers on lead vocals, but the vibe here was not as jerky or kinetic as most of the preceding numbers were. It was not about creating a striking juxtaposition but an environmental soundscape.

As was “Africa Express;” surely on the same tribal looking shelf as 1982’s XTC track “It’s Nearly Africa.” But where the XTC song was a last gasp of their early, kinetic style, here the mood was dreamlike with a synth intro giving way to clip/clop synth percussion throughout the song strongly redolent of Gershon Kingsley’s seminal synthpop hit “Popcorn.” That perkiness was in sharp contrast to the droning synth chords lazily moving like clouds throughout the long, 7:14 number. By its end, the track had attained a stately melancholy air, not unlike OMD’s stock-in-trade. Appropriate, considering that OMD’s Andy McCluskey was actually drafted [briefly] into an early lineup of Dalek i Love You before plowing his own creative furrow.

Next: …The Bonus Tracks

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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2 Responses to Record Review: Dalek i Love You [part 1]

  1. Tim says:

    It’s no Whipped Cream and Other Delights but uh yeah the cover art is rather appealing.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – Ah, the cover. When I saw it, I thought for all the world like it was a lurid still of Faith Domergue from the 50’s sci-fi film “This Island Earth,” but it’s not. It seems to have been a photo specially shot in black + white and then luridly hand tinted by Geoff Halpin to achieve it’s queasy, super-saturated feeling of horror. I say that because the hair stylist [Smile] is credited on the inside – therefore this was not a repurposed earlier shot.

      Like

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