English rhythm & noir band Alberteen took their time to come up with a follow-up for their 2012 album Metal Book, but it's been worth the wait. Miss World is a journey through the back roads of Southern England, paying visits to forgotten villages and nuclear facilities.
With a professor of English Literature on vocals and a playwright on bass, the lyrics are far more intellectual that most of their post-punk competitors. Greek mythology, modernism, physics, poetry and history have found their way into overall melancholy of the songs.
Miss World is an album that can be savoured on different levels. There is a thin line between dreams and reality, madness and sanity. The band themselves call it a trip from Folkestone (the city that hosted the first Miss World pageant in 1908) to London, where they dream of the highrises of Canary Wharf being demolished by Godzilla and Mothra (Princess Noise).
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A French Connection, capturing the lure of a love affair in Paris kicks off the album, with more than a hint to Lenoard Cohen's First We Take Manhattan making it clear that it isn't to last. The Au Pairs' inspired jagged rhythms in King's Evil sound like the running feet of the demonstrators attacking the car carrying Prince Charles to the Royal Variety Show in 2010.
The slow Prospect is the soft-spoken tale of the shut down of the nuclear power plant in Dungeness that prevented another Fukushima disaster. It is by no means as angry as London Calling, but far more scary in the end. Alberteen is well aware that there are two sides of the coin in life, a concept that comes to the fore in We Are The Mods (youthful hope for a brighter future) and We Are The Last (sadder but wiser).
Miss World is an album for adults and smart kids. With Mike Bennett (The Fall, Ian Brown) once again the producer's seat, they have come up with a timeless post-punk album filled with a wealth of cultural references that never get in the way of enjoying the music as such.
Ade Berry: bass, acoustic guitar, keyboards, piano
John Rose: acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals, keyboards, piano, melodica
Phil Shaw: vocals
Gareth Warden: drums, percussion
Julia Knight and Kathryn Stephens-Berry: backing vocals
Miss World will be released (vinyl/cd/digital) on Rhythm & Noir records. Release date: May 25th.Tracks:
- A French Connection
- Princess Noise
- Deep End
- King's Evil
- We Are The Mods
- Infant Nation
- We Are The Last
- 05/25 Rough Trade Records, Nottingham
- 05/30 Quad Studios, Leicester
HCTF review of Metal Book.