sabato 14 novembre 2009

Babybird "Ugly Beautiful"

Alla ricerca del pop perfetto, con ironia, con gusto, con sarcasmo (fin dalla copertina), con una varietà di suoni e idee che rendono l'album un vero gioiello. Non sbaglia praticamente nulla mr Jones in questo suo lavoro (che presenta suoi vecchi pezzi da solista ripresi e suonati con il gruppo), anzi, tra echi di U2, Echo & The Bunnymen, Prefab Sprout, modernariato e guitar pop classico piazza almeno 4 pezzi memorabili per la storia del pop! (1997 Echo)

Another South Yorkshire sexual ironist to set alongside Jarvis, Babybird's Stephen Jones delves here into clefts and crannies most people would rather leave unprobed. Dizzy with the deceptive power of words, for instance, he never leaves a pun unspoken.
"I am beside myself when I'm inside you," he claims in "You & Me", and it could stand as a motto for the entire album.
Ugly Beautiful contains a plethora of responses to unbidden movements of the heart and groin, nearly all of them questionable yet true. Take the hit single "You're Gorgeous" - ostensibly a love ballad of warm togetherness, but, like REM's "The One I Love", actually carrying more sinister undercurrents. In this case, its the song's pitiable account of pornographic devotion - having ice-cubes rubbed on chests, being photographed with legs pulled apart on car bonnets, and being paid pounds 20 with vague promises of being seen in a magazine - all endured for infatuation's sake, because the snapper is so gorgeous.
Elsewhere, the absurdly convoluted rhymes of "Candy Girl" ("Are you Paris without snails? Are you the Red Lion without ales?") serve merely to set up the cheeky fellatio reference in the chorus, while the necrophiliac musings of "I Didn't Want To Wake You Up" are given greater urgency here, courtesy of confident drumming and an eerie string pad, than on Jones's solo version included on last year's Fatherhood album.
This is the most noticeable result of Jones's decision to re-record several of the songs from his four previous solo Baby Bird LPs with his new backing band, a durable group able to turn their hand to all manner of pop strategies, from the wistful Mediterranean MOR of "Bad Shave" to the trip-hop of "Atomic Soda". The improvements are significant. It's not just that the songs sound less like dashed-off demos - there is also an increased depth of musical character to them, which renders them more like collective notions rather than the mad imaginings of a marginalised loner. (

Moving to a major label and switching to a full backing band for Ugly Beautiful is both a positive and negative development for Baby Bird. In the positive sense, Steven Jones' songs -- including a handful of tracks that were on his indie releases -- are given a clarity they were lacking in the past, and the full-bodied arrangements reveal songs like "Good Night" and "You're Gorgeous" as effortlessly catchy pop singles. However, the sonic clarity and larger arrangements also reveal that Jones is neither as clever nor as strange as his lo-fi albums suggested. Indeed, he often sounds like he's stuck in 1985, replicating the quirky charms of Robyn Hitchcock and Echo & The Bunnymen, and he lacks the wit or the adventure of either artist. So, Ugly Beautiful often treads close to cutesy nostalgia, of all things, yet it's saved by the sporadic surfacing of his songcraft. Even in this radio-ready setting, "I Didn't Want to Wake You Up" has a disquieting power, and "You're Gorgeous" positively radiates with twisted sexuality. But the long, "ironic" jams and unfocused material that end the record suggest that instead of representing the first flowering of his full talent, Ugly Beautiful may be the peak of it. (Stephen Thomas Erlewine - All Music Guide)

- Goodnight
- Candy Girl
- Jesus Is My Girlfriend
- I Didn't Want to Wake You Up
- Dead Bird Sings
- Atomic Soda
- You're Gorgeous
- Bad Shave
- Cornershop
- King Bing
- You and Me
- 45 and Fat
- Handsome to Be Homeless
- July
- Baby Bird


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