Reverend & the Makers – ‘A French Kiss in the Chaos’

August 22, 2009 § Leave a comment

Published: Music Australia Guide #68, August 2009.

Reverend & the Makers
A French Kiss in the Chaos
****
(Liberator/Universal)

On 2007 debut The State of Things, Sheffield six-piece Reverend & the Makers did little more than scratch the surface. Their references were conspicuous enough; a melange of jangling Brit-pop pedigree and danceable Manchester bass lines underscored their sound. But while it garnered some commercial success, the record wasn’t much to rave about. It was clear that precocious front man Jon McLure – whose former band Judan Ski featured Alex Turner and Matt Helders from Arctic Monkeys – and the gang had a lot more to give. A French Kiss in the Chaos is the statement we were waiting for. From the swelling guitar and sitar overture of opener Silence is Talking, this is a record that transcends the comfortable musical domain of its predecessor. The magic here is in the effortless departures. While McClure and his band stay within the vague boundaries of the Brit pop format, they’re willing to at least explore the perimeter. It’s written all over the spacious, melodic pop of Hidden Persuaders, which soon enough morphs into a snide, anti-consumerist barb – “You’re free,” croons McClure, “to do what we tell you” – while on No Wood Just Trees, a lone Spanish horn motif melts into bass-heavy dance floor groove. The dizzying psychedelic dynamics of Professor Pickles and stunning closer Hard Times for Dreamers, meanwhile, are almost orchestral in scope. But through all the colour, A French Kiss in the Chaos is still very much a British pop record, and this is its precise achievement. It strays, but never so far as to lose itself.

Dan Rule

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