The Whatevers - Art and Sex - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Whatevers - Art and Sex

by Andy Brown Rating:9 Release Date:2011-07-21

The Whatevers are currently in the process of releasing their indie-pop opus, Modern Pop Music, piece-by-piece, via Bandcamp. They warn us it'll be an "unfocused mess" and a "20-odd-track clusterfuck". They also say it'll be kind of like The White Album but still not as good as Art and Sex. Art and Sex was their first album and remains something of a classic in waiting. Some debuts are so effortlessly brilliant that the band themselves never really feel like it can be bettered. From what I've heard of Modern Pop Music, I think The Whatevers are being a bit hard on themselves, yet there is always something uniquely special about a cracking debut album.

I mean If You're Feeling Sinister was clearly more accomplished than Tigermilk, yet it's Belle & Sebastian's debut that makes indie boys and girls go weak at the knees. Playing Art and Sex you get that feeling; like a first crush or that LP that meant the world to you at 14. The Whatevers make music for 14-year-old idealists and 30-something's who wish they were back in a bedsit drinking cheap wine and listening to Morrissey sing about Sundays. They make music for every indie-pop purist who still swoons at the mere mention of Felt, Orange Juice or Mccarthy and can't get enough of Just Handshakes (We're British), Comet Gain and The Cribs. If any of this sounds like you than give this album a go.

The album opens with 'All the Dirty Kids, All the Dead Rock Stars'. There's a stolen Stone Roses riff and a gradual build up before Kate Bisson's vocals come in: "All the dirty kids, your ignorance is bliss when there's not much more than this…" There's a sweet melancholy here and the kind of honesty that The Whatevers excel at. The lyrics throughout are sad-eyed, witty, knowing and instantly quotable. Take 'Awkward', where Kate sings, "You're breaking my heart, breaking my heart, just pull your head out of your arse" before informing us that she's "never had a boyfriend who didn't like Pavement and I never had a boyfriend who wasn't a waster". This is all sung over a glorious Cribs-meets-Pavement racket. Kate Bisson and Mike Relton both deliver the lyrics and it's the interplay between them that'll make the hair stand up on the back of yr neck. In fact it's this interplay that binds Art and Sex together; true indiepop chemistry.

There are plenty of special moments on the album; the title track itself is an undeniable highlight. The song starts with Relton singing about censorship and dirty weekends, with Bisson chiming in with cheeky asides ("Well, we all like pornography"). Yet it's around the 2.20 mark when the music really soars and Relton croons the immaculate payoff that you completely fall in love as they both sing, "I just wanna roll around in art and sex". They sing us a song about "the indie Beatles" with the wonderful 'Stuart Murdoch' where they cheerfully tell us that, "We'd be amazing if we could sing". 'Rhapsody in Blue Jeans' is one of the sweetest, gentlest tracks on the album with Relton and Bisson reminiscing over beautifully intricate instrumentation. 'Play Nothing But Hardcore' chooses a nice cup of tea over bringing down capitalism while 'Same Power Chords' is indie-pop perfection.

To be honest there isn't enough room here to tell you about all the great moments on Art and Sex. Great songwriting, lyrics which surprise and keep you listening closely and seamlessly ramshackle performances. It's indie-pop, it's punk rock and it's what you've been waiting for. Get it for yr inner 14-year-old.

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