Felt - Me And A Monkey On The Moon - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Felt - Me And A Monkey On The Moon

by Jeff Penczak Rating:10 Release Date:2018-09-21
Felt - Me And A Monkey On The Moon
Felt - Me And A Monkey On The Moon

Alas, we come to the end of our decade-long journey through the Felt catalogue. With this release, Lawrence has fulfilled his 10-year plan – to release 10 singles and 10 albums in 10 years and then disband. If you’ve been following our reviews of the Cherry Red reissue series, you’re well aware of the eclectic musical journey that’s brought us to this final release. Two instrumental albums, one of which isn’t even a “Felt” album, cocktail lounge jazz, dreamy pop earworms, lengthy instrumental jams bookending brief snippets of poetic lyricism…yes, it’s been a truly long strange trip. Thankfully, Lawrence has saved one of his best efforts for his swan song, as Me and A Monkey is not only one of Felt’s best albums, it’s one of the best albums of the decade.

To be sure, there is a nostalgic yearning that permeates many of the tunes, including the countrified slide guitar swirl of new guitarists John Mohan (a true Felt acolyte who was fresh off an EP from his band that he named after the Felt song Apple Boutique!) and fellow Brummie Richard Left, fresh out of the Surf Drums (Lawrence hung up his guitar and only provides his distinctive, nasally Brummie vocals, with assistance from sweet birdlike accompaniment from ex-Strawberry Switchblader Rose McDowall) on the country-pop opener ‘I Can’t Make Love To You Anymore’.

‘Mobile Shack’ also shakes and shimmies its way across the dancefloor like an urban cowboy with his lizard-leather boots on. Next up is the first tearful “goodbye” from Lawrence to his fans via ‘Free’ with an appropriately tearful piano solo from Martin Duffy and autobiographical lyrics (again aimed at long-departed guitarist and best mate Maurice Deebank) that literally stroll down the memory lane namechecked later in the song ‘Down An August Path’. But for now, we are left with “Maybe I'll go see/An old friend/Who I haven't been with/For many years/We used to write songs/Had our own band/He didn't like it much/So he left/But I'm still here”. It’s perhaps, the saddest song in their entire canon.

‘New Day Dawning’ is one of Felt’s best late-period tunes, from its brilliant, slow burn build-up intro to its orgasmic release and killer chorus. And it’s catchy as all get out. Budding air guitarists the world over are still practicing to replicate Mohan’s syncopated riff. And then when, out of nowhere, Mohan’s blistering 3-minute solo bursts out like a rocket’s red glare. Well, simply sublime. Maurice who?

The aforementioned ‘Down An August Path’ adds another tearful tale of loss: “Waiting by a bridge/That leads you to a stone/That says your mother died/Your mother died/Kneeling by her cross/The words they come to life/You open up inside/And start to cry”. It’s about surviving that loss: “You are on your own/You're father's never there/He leaves you all alone/You're on your own”. It almost sounds autobiographical, although I don’t know anything about Lawrence’s home life. (He needs to write his autobiography.)

‘Never Let You Go’ is a multilevel love song of promises which revisits the theme of ‘I Didn’t Mean To Hurt You’ with similar lyrics, ‘She Deals In Crosses’ turns up the ringing guitars and strident posturing beats and comes on like a cross (no pun intended) between U2, The Chameleons, and Patti Smith, all sung in Lawrence’s best Lou Reed impersonation. And then, we reach the end – ‘Get Out Of My Mirror’. Stop copying me, worshipping me, hanging on my every thought, word, and deed and go out there and live your own life. “There's rows of spotlights shining on me/Turn them off don't invade my privacy”. And with that, Lawrence is off, disappearing back into the shadows, leaving behind a mostly impressive collection of albums and singles that stand amongst the best the 80s had to offer.

It’s too bad Lawrence went in a completely different direction with his bubblegum glam band Denim. I would have loved to have heard a follow-up from this lineup.

As with the other reissues, a 7” single is included in the CD box edition. Here you get the gurgling sci-fi blues of ‘Space Blues’ coupled with the bouncy dance-pop of ‘Tuesdays Secret’.

 

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