I love this band, so let's get that out in the open from the start. I love the way that whilst they have flirted with the big time, been knocked down with losing a record deal, they still carried on the creative escalator rising higher and refusing to go back down. The band released their second album Secrets Of The Witching Hour as a free download; an unheard of thing to do from a band having lost their record deal due to poor sales, and this seemed like a suicidal marketing idea. Currently the album has had 117,344 downloads and is also available on CD. The band then took some time out before starting to record their third album Square Moon. I was lucky enough to get a copy of the first half of the album back in 2010 (of which these three songs were included) unaware that it would make up half of a double album. Whilst the album has been available since late last year on Download and LP, there is still no release date for a CD.
So, what of these (relatively) new songs? Well, the first thing is the more laid back approach, mainly due to the absence of guitar riffs, aside from acoustic strums, since guitarist Andrew Norton left the band in 2007. What we get are piano driven melodies and strings laying out musical waves for Davey MacManus to majestically dance lyrically over like a mischievously gifted child. The EP title track Last Plane Out of Saigon sets us up beautifully. The songs are two-fold, opening up to the tunes and gentleness, whilst after a few listens you appreciate the great contemporary poet that Mr MacManus is. You need look no further than the frantic rant that appears in The Only Living Boy and Girl, whereby he says, "Climb the tallest tree // Watch the Bloody Mary sunset skate across the city // Where hope has been switched off // like a fuckin' ???vision // You're still out there, and I don't know where // And it's killing me // Every second it's killing me // But behind the forced smile, I was only flesh and bones to you // And I will never walk up those stairs again// And I will never walk up those stairs again...." It's brilliant. The way Davey can twist a well-worn subject of being rejected and shunned by a lover with powerful words that make you dig deep and hand over you sympathy even when he goes on to rant, "And I will always be haunted by that moment // I woke up and she was gone // I'm not angry, I'm just sad // I cannot stand this planet // When I was a kid I used to think that everything would be okay // Now I walk down the street and want to chopped the heads off every person I see // This is it! This is all there is! //I don't want to play anymore // The bandstand burns tonight and I'm going up with it!"
The last song How To Make You Laugh tells of the reluctant hero. The forgotten, with whom we still hold so much hope that perhaps he doesn't understand their importance to others and so is left to float off in to an unsuccessful unknown. It's a nice mid-tempo number tune that is upbeat and wonderfully arranged.
Okay, so the best thing about this EP is that it is FREE to download now if you head over to the band's website. It's a great example of the songs (albeit the half that I have heard) from the band's new album. The band are what a musical creation should be, and with Davey MacManus you get a focused individual whom is a great live performer, who can pen lyrics of a torn, scorned and reborn soul drawing on all of the pain that he sees in his job as a nurse helping others to heal. It's perfect.