Piper’s Son – The roar from behind (Vacilando ’68)

What a lovely album this is, from Londoner Thom Driver with friends, lying somewhere between the wry social observations of Darren Hayman and the outsider introspections of Syd Barrett. So, very English you might think except that lyrically these songs are painfully direct, in a fairly unEnglish way.

Draw me things you’d love to see
and I can fill the colours in
then we’ll smudge the lines
and feel them running up and down our spines

from ‘Please don’t go backwards’ or this from ‘Fingers from the future’ –

I saw your hand-me-down in the fireplace
after mother left for town
are you strangled by your emotions
do you wish you had the key.

The latter proceeds luminously at funeral pace and with its skeleton guitar lines brings to mind a little bit that poignant Go Betweens classic ‘Cold and dusty in here’.

I’ve already played ‘Mining’ on the show, an inspired mixture of ska, calypso trumpet and cartoon soundtracks, which bemoans the psychological hazards of (western world) city living.

‘Bad boomerang’ has another glorious combination, this time steel drum and trumpet, above a winning two-step beat. You may find you prefer the gorgeous guitar melody on ‘Doctor at the door’, which works its magic amid cavorting samples. Or the uplifting guitar riff on ‘Hiding at the cinema’ which manages to conjure a post-New Romantic sound, before casting it off again in favour of attractively downbeat social realism.

Quixotic and authentic pop songs, tender and heartfelt. Wonky pop yes, although with plenty of classic pop leanings. At times, I even thought of Prefab Sprout, if Paddy McAloon was less into Jimmy Webb and more into...I don’t know, something that came after punk anyway.

A regular at the monthly Scaledown event in London, Piper’s Son is highly recommended.


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