4. Momus - Pantaloon (Darla)
The clock is ticking.
Back in 1947, a group of eminent scientists introduced the concept of 'The Doomsday Clock', it symbolised how close the world was to a man made catastrophe, the idea was that when the clock struck midnight, it would be curtains for all of us. In 1947 the clock indicated that the end of the world as we know it was seven minutes away. Since then the minute hand has wavered to and fro, but now, with the damages of global warming, over population, scarce resources, war and, as Noam Chomsky recently observed, a US Republican government that is 'the most dangerous organization in human history', it is now closer to midnight (a mere two minutes), than it ever has been before.
Last summer, as I wandered along some faraway beach and grimaced at the amount of single use plastic that washed upon the shore, I listened to the songs that Momus was teasing out for his forthcoming album, of which 'Good Time Coming' a theatrical march, is one of the highlights. In the song Momus knows where we are and where we are heading, it's a manifesto and not a moan, offering solutions for all our ills, but ending each stanza with a note of scepticism, such as:
'If we can act collectively instead of for ourselves,
I really see no limit to the fun,
If not, on the other hand, we're done.'
It's here where the song really hurts, without explicitly saying so (this isn't the didactic world of Morrissey, the writer has the skill to imply and suggest), he knows that humans won't actually '... pull (their) finger out and get (their) ass in gear', in enough time to avoid the impending apocalypse. If Coward's 'There are Bad Times Just Around The Corner' was a reflection on post-war anxiety, then this should be regarded as it's early 21st century equivalent.
There's a hazey psychedelic feel to the sardonic 'Little Paper Humans' (multi tracked vocals, a keyboard that sounds like a snake charmer's Pungi). It's sounds like a long lost hippy protest song ('kind is what you need to be but you don't show it...') , like so much on this album, even the song's title hints at how fragile we are.
But that's not to say that 'Pantaloon' is a despondent record, the gentle jazz of 'Brexochasm' may be a love song, but it reflects on the awfulness of Brexit and a world where we now 'have to live without Bowie'.
It's in this song that the Shakespearean notion of a 'pantaloon' (the penultimate stage in the seven ages of man, from 'As You Like It' is most evident Momus may have not reached this stage of life yet ('...with spectacles on nose and pouch on side'), but there is a suggestion that his time is running out:
'And you're everything I ever dreamed of
But I may be running out of time
At least the world and I have that in common
We are partners in crime.'
There is also surreal comedy here. 'The Beckmans' takes the decadent lifestyles of characters in the Weimar Republic, as painted by Max Beckman, and juxtaposes it with the theme tune of 'Steptoe and Son'. It contains several gloriously amusing lines, of which the opener ('My brother is a brat, a wank stain in a hat'), made me spit out what I was eating when I first heard it.
This being a Momus album, there are far more cultural and literary influences and references than more celebrated songwriters achieve in a decade (and yes, I'm referring to Morrissey here). I really have only scratched the surface on the myriad of ideas that flow through this album. 'Pantaloon' is an album that will reward you whenever you return to it.
Enjoy it whilst we still have time.
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Jay Lewis is a Birmingham based music, movie and arts obsessive. Jay's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s/90s Arts films is a debt to his embedded status in the Triangle Arts Centre trenches back then.
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