The Wind-Up Birds - The Land
The Wind-Up Birds are from Leeds. They are named after a book by Haruki Murakami. They use good Yorkshire words like owt and nowt. They write songs about independent record shops, the reality of life, the monotony of work, and escape. They sound like the Fall stalking Art Brut in The Wedding Present's library. It's somehow fitting that, in the month that the Centre For Creative Arts launched their impressive project to release John Peel's record collection on-line, a gang of indie throwbacks, for whom Peel band would be a badge of honour, release their long awaited debut album The Land.
The album opens with 'Good Shop Shuts', a storming ode to the joys of independent records stores and the sorrows of their demise in the pointless pursuit of progress. Singer Paul Ackroyd yells like his life depended upon it: "While we moan like owt when 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" and we all look sheepish, stare at our shoes and know in our heart of hearts that we're all to blame. Downloading from iTunes never felt like such a betrayal.
The lyrically and musically impressive 'There Won't Always Be An England', with it's themes of football, uncritical patriotism and pent up violence sounds like Carter USM's take on 'I Predict A Riot'. The seven and a half minute epic indie beat poem 'Nostalgic For...' is the most excoriating description of the world on the other side of the tracks since John Cooper Clarke's 'Beasley Street'. A world of dog shit, snot, chipped cups and sick on the carpet. It's poetry, Jim, but not as we know it.
It's not all doom, gloom and sociological lectures on our contribution to the death of the high street however. The appropriately titled 'Popman' is a blast of infectious pop punk which, if I didn't know better I'd swear was a cover of a long lost Buzzcock's track. 'No People, Just Cutouts' is the point at which the angular art pop of Art Brut meets the Dead Kennedys punk. They even throw in a love song, of sorts. If Love Story was ever remade as a film about an amputee and a philanderer in the smoky shadow of burning rubber then 'Tyre Fire' would be the theme tune.
In the increasingly illiterate world of text speak and twitter feeds, a world where you despair of ever finding articulate musicians with something interesting to say, thank heaven for The Wind-Up Birds. It's great to hear a band who know that the musical history of the UK didn't begin with Oasis or Schlock Aimless and Watered Down. The Land combines the caustic satirical bite of Mark E Smith and the lyrical wit of Eddie Argos with a cathartic post-punk clatter with more angles than a geometry text book. It may be a little too obtuse, a little too abrasive for the sensitive palates of a generation raised on artificial, pro tools enhanced shallow dross but for those who prefer something a little more organic, more reflective of the world in which we live then this could be the album for you. If John Peel were still alive the Wind-Up Birds would be his new favourite band and The Land would be included in the Centre For Creative Art's Peel project.