Wreckless Eric - Construction Time & Demolition

by Jeff Penczak Rating:5 Release Date:2018-03-30
Wreckless Eric - Construction Time & Demolition
Wreckless Eric - Construction Time & Demolition

Billed as the new album by Wreckless Eric’s alter ego, Eric Goulden, Construction Time And Demolition marks the 40th anniversary (to the day) of the wreckless one’s debut with the sixth album released by the inimitable Stiff Records. Although it’s only the eighth album released under his own name, he has an extensive discography with numerous bands, including the Len Bright Combo, Captains of Industry, the Hitsville House Band, and his wife, Amy Rigby. While he may never write another ‘Whole Wide World’ or ‘Take The K.A.S.H.’ (and probably doesn’t want do), his sense of humour and dedication to righting the world’s wrongs is commendable and finds outlets in his biting lyrics, ranking with the best of fellow angry young men, Paul Weller and Graham Parker.

His thick Cockney accent may still be an acquired taste, but no more so than, say, Robyn Hitchcock’s. Opener ‘Gateway To Europe’ is a tad overloaded with backing vocals, big brass bands, and shortwave radio interference (surely intentional, but jarring nonetheless straight out of the gate) and ‘Flash’ is a on a cruise course to disaster with backing that sends like the band kicked their instruments down the stairs and recorded the results. But then one’s attention is directed to the album title and cover art and it all starts to make sense. Sort of!

‘They Don’t Mean No Harm’ has more energy and balls than artists half his age (approaching 64), but still deteriorates into frazzled mayhem that takes the album’s remit a bit too literally. It just feels like a dress rehearsal gone wrong. The spoken word, autobiographical ‘Wow and Flutter’ is self-deprecating hilarity at its finest, ending in an extended, disjointed coda that sounds like the musicians were in different studios. The similar career retrospective ’40 Years’ (see above) is both touching and sympathetic without wallowing in self-pity and all the better for it, and the approaching maelstrom of ‘The Two Of Us’ raises heartbeats and energy levels a few notches closer to spontaneous human combustion. And I wonder if ‘Unnatural Act’ refers to him and his surviving Stiff label mates: “We were descended from dinosaurs/We weren’t meant to survive”?

But too much of the album emphasizes the musical confluence where “construction” meets “demolition”, such that songs devolve before they are ”fully baked”, a state that may aid in the listening experience, but can be a little too off putting for newbies or old fans hoping he’ll rekindle that old magic. These listeners may find themselves singing along with the chorus to ‘Unnatural Act’: “Enough of this shit/Enough of this shit/When are we gonna get/Enough of this shit”.

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