April 1995 – EP reviews – Bluefood’s ‘Cheese’ (“n elegantly tired, worn, damask’n’dust croon as loose as a blanket thrown over a sagging sofa… mordant, sparkling hooky pop”

30 Apr

Bluefood: 'Cheese'

Bluefood: ‘Cheese’

“Given half the chance you would take the time / to have all the things you ever wanted to find / and, maybe, make sure that everything was always fine. / Just clear your head, look through the window, see the world knocking at your door. / There’s a cure – just close the curtains, / that’s what they’re there for…”

Bluefood are brilliant. No two ways about it. Think Tindersticks gone sampleadelic but with better tunes; think of the much-missed white-knuckle Bohemianism of Furniture; think Morrissey’s wit unencumbered by the petulant tantrums and waving sleeves. Think a down-at-heel, seedier young Scott Walker slumped in a corner after losing five too many bar brawls; but still carrying a ironic smirk across that smart mouth, behind the bruises. Think of the way that London can pull you down into a swamp of despondency during the days, sucking the energy out of your nerves in a succession of crummy jobs and rented rooms: then think of the way you decide to make the same tatty old city yours at night.

You don’t need to think any more: Bluefood have nailed it. It’s all here. In Duncan Morris’ voice, there’s the memory of a whole world of opportunities missed by a whisker – an elegantly tired, worn, damask’n’dust croon as loose as a blanket thrown over a sagging sofa. And while he plucks at the faded fruits of a haphazard existence, Paul Gilbert, Alun Lane and onetime Pigbag drummer Chip Carpenter wrap them up in a raffish, rumpled package of manically swinging pianos, swirling sardonic jazz-horn samples and sweeping Cocteau-ed dream-pop guitar like a swathe of tattered velvet curtain: all stitched together in mordant, sparkling hooky pop that, timeless as it is, could only pop up out of the ’90s.

It’s Burt Bacharach and Randy Newman playing poker with Moonshake and Portishead in The Smiths’ old bedsits, perhaps; but it’s all “wall-to-wall hardcorn melodrama” to Bluefood. As glimpsed through the oscillating spaces between the loops, their world is one where hapless boys lose their girlfriends to other women; where you can know precisely how cheap you are while still enjoying your ability to place hairstyles; where you’re no more than your last wisecrack or trophy date (like the dumped lover on Who’s Who?, knocked out of his place and freefalling through the gaps of casual engagements and social cyphers); but where the world still lurches on in a spirit of optimism that’s half cunning, and half plastered.

Duncan and co. take you on a tour of this world and its shifty corners, armed with the sort of impeccable wit, comic timing, and sense of self-awareness (“Boy meets girl, / girl finds herself, / boy loses mind and takes to getting drunk and writing morbid songs”) which the hopelessly pompous likes of Jack will never touch. “I found perfection, didn’t know what to do with perfection. / I caught a falling star – it burnt a hole in my pocket.” They might be boho to the core; but they’re not so langorously in love with the lifestyle’s tatty glamour that they’re oblivious to its ridiculous side.

Send In the Clowns sketches the ups-and-downs of the wastrel’s life, swaying between complacent despondency (“when you sleep and dream away the truth, nature’s on the roof / stealing all the lead”) and the wild clutchings of helpless inspiration “when your head’s confused, like you’ve blown a fuse, / when you just don’t know what you’re supposed to do, / when the circus runs away with you…” Down in the depths, on Girlfriend, the marshmallow bloat of the loungecore string loops which cushion and smother Duncan’s teary love-lorn drunkenness are suddenly invaded by a wandering mariachi band… right at the point when he’s sure that things can’t get any worse.

Merry-Go-Round (She Said) is a Drive My Car for the hopeful: “‘Hello, do you want a boyfriend?’ / She laughed, ‘I’ve already got one’. / ‘Well, anyway, a girl like you should have two, / In case one gets broken.’ / So that was how they met.” It captures the rapid swirl and the first thrill of the heat coming on, while simultaneously puncturing the pretentions of born-again lovers. “‘Life’s a merry go round’, he said. / ‘Oh, how bloody profound,’she said. ‘Lah-de-da-de-dah – just drive…” On the tale of a quarrelsome, burnt-out affair on Eyes of Bethnal Green, love kicks hard even as it’s going downhill: “She was the kind of girl if she broke your heart / it would ruin her life for the whole weekend… / ‘Tell me you’re not just another boy-man with two big eyes in his sockets, / Got the world in his hands, when his hands are in his pockets.'”

If the course of true love ain’t running exactly smoothly here, it’s not lost altogether. Funny Face sounds exactly like an older, wiser, more guarded Blue Nile – an after-hours torch ambience half-inched from Sinatra; smoky ripples of synth; sparse, sharp, romantic piano. All topped off with finger-snaps, jazz bass, a soulful Tony Bennett sample returning in a snatch of song, and Duncan’s meditation on the girl who’s reawakened his lazy, world-weary interest. It’s romance of a sort, as he extricates himself from the swamp of insincerity: “I love your politics, / I admire your hair, I like your style / and the clothes you wear: but you can change your views, / you can change your taste…/ Well, I’ll always like you.”

Somewhere out in the city tonight, Bluefood are sprawled gracefully in the corner of a bar, leaning on a pile of chipped hearts in the failing crimson light, and trying to trace the erratic currents of life in the swirl of a martini. Battered, smudged stars-in-waiting. Toast the cheese.

Bluefood: ‘Cheese’
self-released (no catalogue number or barcode)
Cassette EP
Released:
April 1995
Get it from: (2020 update) Very rare and never reissued; best obtained second-hand. There were soundfiles from the EP on the internet at some point, but I can’t find them anymore.
Bluefood online:
(no websites available)
 

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