The Bordellos ‘Gary Glitter EP’
Small Bear Records
Chipping away at the Eiger for years without much success, despite favorable reviews, The Bordellos have decided to up the ante and do away with the subtleties and go for total alienation instead.
As the title of their latest EP makes clear, the once egomaniac Glam doyen, now infamous for his heinous sexual crimes, did make some great records. The sins have rightly condemned the gross wretch for eternity, and though erased from showreels and back episodes of Top of the Pops, the songs for some still endure. In their usual black comedic manner, the St. Helens band wrestle with the problem of once “hero-worshipping” the work of a man who goes onto become a pariah. And so, punching what many will see as a distasteful ‘fuck you’ sized hole through the cosy perimeter walls of good taste, they launch an attack on all that is deemed maudlin and safe.
Not exactly tarnishing themselves with the same brush, The Bordellos’ own pariah status sees them locked-out of the music industry for no reason – as they see it – other than the mediocre tastes of those who run it: As the chief Bordello puts it, they’re concerned with the “death of magic in mainstream pop” and its lackluster weariness to controversy and anything different. As pop music, but really all the creative industries to some extent, continue to wrestle with a digitized model of consumer convenience – to the detriment of the artists -, and with the facilitators of these so-called altruistic ‘sharing’ economies now scooping up all the money, leaving everyone else fighting over the scraps, the mainstream continues to absorb, enervate and diffuse every internet troubadour, band and collective. With the means to produce now in every mobile device and almost free of cost, the sheer volume of material on the internet is daunting, yet the percentage of truly great, enduring music remains unchanged. And despite the constant mantras of the age, pontificating we’ve never had it so good, music has lost its value, not only monetary but artistically in many cases. The freedoms gained in utilitarian access to fans and equipment has been lost on the stale and boring industry’s penchant for the safest bet.
Hence The Bordellos, almost nostalgic but recalling with gnarled abrasive post-punk frustration reference to so many records from the golden age. When for example, polar opposites Frank Sinatra and Frank Zappa could share the same major record label in the 60s. And so the group’s ‘Attack Of The Killer B-Sides’ lists a litany of flipside gems from the mainstream pop acts of the past (Shangri-La’s, New Order and The Smiths to name but three).
On the bastardised Rolling Stones’ ‘Not Fade Away’ diatribe ‘Free Download Generation’ they ask some quite legitimate questions on the balancing of creative freedoms and accessibility with the need to work a 9 – 5 job. On the chorus they pose, “Would The Beatles have made Revolver if they’d had to hold down a steady job?”
Scuzzed-up, beating a Velvet Underground dirge, waxing between the Spacemen 3 and Johnny Thunders, grinding away, they still maintain an ear for melody. But perhaps their most strange track, both theme wise and musically, is the weird turn ‘Disco Pants’. How it fits in with the general attack on mainstream pop is anyone’s guess, the band repeating most of the way through, “I’m going to town for shoes today” (at least that’s what I think he’s singing). The backing is an oddity; like The Fall, Suicide and The Normal sharing the same therapy group. The Bordellos are truly in a world of their own. And thank God, otherwise they’d be doomed to joining the ranks of the alternative pop and indie landfill.
Looking beyond the antagonistic title, the band keep plugging away, often finding fertile explorations and new ground in their lo fi but ambitious endeavors.