|The third album from the now permanent five-piece line up of Sergeant Buzfuz is too well arranged and shares too many features with great English pop misfits simply to be dismissed as anti-folk. Joe Murphy and Jon Clayton have done a great job in creating something that’s anything but lo-fi, an expansive-sounding record that incorporates hammered dulcimer, accordion, banjo, violin and cello as well as the expected instruments. It doesn’t fall into any convenient genre box: the songs could be tagged as folk, indie, punk or pop, often in the course of the same song. While the hammered dulcimer and violin on ‘Pour It From The Kettle’ add a folky touch, a catchy Brian Jonestown Massacre-style groove predominates. ‘Blanket TV’ highlights the rural/urban split at the heart of the record: “you played in fields and river beds/ now you’re a city child, running through carbon and lead”. Without a sniff of whimsy, ‘Swallows’ puts you in mind of English eccentrics XTC while Television Personalities wouldn’t turn up their noses at the minimalist pop magic of ‘Something To Lose’.
Joe Murphy’s lyrics matches the rich texture of the songs. Where they’re political, they might not have the same crowd-rousing venom of Chris T-T but they have an intelligent bite. ‘The Television Will Not Be Revolutionised’ stands Gil Scott-Heron’s mantra on its head but is the same assault on modern apathy: “your parents fought in the union/ you fight in the IKEA queue”. The album is then finished off by the magnificent thousand-years-of-ecclesiastical-evil-compressed-into-7-minutes that is ‘Here Comes The Popes Part 1 (1st Millennium)’. It’s a well-researched litany of simony, sodomy and shagging in the Vatican that highlights the hypocrisy of the Holy Fathers; and there’s still another 1000 years to catch up on in Part 2!
The record is released on the Blang label, named after the regular clubnight at the 12 Bar Club that Joe Murphy organises. ‘The Jewelled Carriageway’ is intense, original, clever, funny and moving and – in the best possible way – gets you wondering: what the hell am I listening to?