This sounds more like a descent into alcoholism than an album. There are the classic melancholy tales of lost love, the slurring and the clincher: that he seems to get progressively more drunk as it goes on. The mistake I made was not being drunk when I listened to it. Boz Boorer is capable of better than this. He’s had considerable success with new wave rockabilly group The Polecats, and has written and played guitar for Morrissey.
And while rockabilly really isn’t a sound I like, at least it is a sound. As you’d expect, it dominates the album, coming to the fore on tracks such as ‘Tokyo Calling’ and ‘Doctor Jazz’. The latter is a prime example of Boorer saving his best words for Morrissey: ‘They call me Doctor Jazz and that’s my fate/I’m famous for the way I operate/I’ll fix you up when you get down/My bedside manner is the talk of the town/They call me Doctor Jazz and that’s just great‘. Sorry Boz, but that’s really not great.
It is, though, better than those two or three tracks that are more meandering dirges than songs. On ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’, he sounds like Johnny Cash or Shane MacGowan of The Pogues, but even gloomier. This is where he really starts to hit the Buckfast/whisky/ketamine.
He cheers up and picks the pace up every now and again, but by the time he’s reached the penultimate track (‘Of Hooves’), he’s really lost the plot. That plot, in case you were wondering, involved a slither of hope, some kind of music and diction. Now if Boorer and his band weren’t pissed when they recorded this, they certainly were when they decided to keep it on the album, rather than deleting it and never speaking of it again. It’s a nonsensical monologue mumbled over jazz, in a seemingly Scottish accent. ‘The presents give presence to those present’ – huh? It’s the kind of thing you might consider deep when you’re following in the confused footsteps of Hunter S. Thompson.
The cleverly titled “Some of The Parts” concludes with the cleverly titled ‘I’m Gonna Make Your Mind’. It’s an improvement on ‘Of Hooves’, but then whale music/dogs barking/Mariah Carey would be too. Again though, he sounds like a pissed Scotsman – this time singing along to something like the original Batman theme tune.
For me, the best song on the album, by far, is ‘Slippery Forces’. It’s an unusual take on a love/lust song, which sounds strangely like that newcomer Jake Bugg, who is 32 years his junior. Wisely, it’s also the first single from Boz Boorer’s fourth solo album.
The (very) few bright spots are not enough to save the whole though. I’m sure rockabilly fans would enjoy some, or even lots of it, but even they would probably agree that certain tracks are just bizarre. Personally, I didn’t find much to like here.