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Sweet Baboo – I'm A Dancer / Songs About Sleepin'

"I'm A Dancer / Songs About Sleepin'"

Sweet Baboo – I'm A Dancer / Songs About Sleepin'
21 October 2010, 14:00 Written by Adam Nelson

Over the course of this year’s Green Man Festival, I saw Sweet Baboo’s Stephen Black perform on three separate occasions. Once as the bassist in sub-Super Furry Animals psych-folkers H. Hawkline, once solo and unaccompanied, and once, in the guise he appears on this record, backed-up sparsely by his band.

Of these, only his solo show was anything less than intensely irritating. Stephen Black seems like an affable kind of a bloke, but his stage banter on the Saturday morning consisted mainly of talking about how drunk he and his guitarist had been the night before, and said guitarist making crude references to women in the crowd performing acts of fellatio upon him.’s biography of the band mentions a live performance in which Black, for no defendable or discernible reason, removed an item of clothing after every song until he was down to his underpants.

I left university earlier this year. My university ran a performing arts course. It was full of people like Stephen Black. People who think that talking about being drunk is anything but mind-numbingly boring for the people being talked at, people who think that semi-joking about oral sex with audience members is funny, who think that being on stage in your pants is hilarious, because, y’know, you’re in your pants, people who think that lyrics like “I wish my brain was full of sand” is somehow meaningful simply if you say it while playing acoustic guitar.

For some reason Black keeps singing about going to hell on this album, and about demons in his brain, and “struggling with my drinking”, and twice, as he joked about at Green Man, “squashing my brain into someone else’s brain to make one super-human brain”, and all other kinds of ‘quirky’ nonsense you’d really hope most people were beyond thinking were cool by the age of 18 but, as Black himself points out on the title track (which, by the way, appears here twice, in two different forms, for some reason), he’s twenty-seven. “Three years til I’m thirty, three years to hell.” Uh-huh, that’s a real lyric. No, it’s probably not supposed to be taken seriously, despite the earnest in Black’s voice. It’s still arse.

The worst thing is, Black is capable of some good stuff. The first rendition of ‘I’m A Dancer’ on here is really not half bad, the “second side of the LP”, Songs About Sleepin’, is a considerable improvement over the first, and his solo show at Green Man, standing in for the absent Mountain Man, singing to a small crowd of people in the drizzling rain was at times sweet and moving, mainly when he performed slightly older material. He’s a talented musician and his ear for a good melody is unmistakably pretty good, but his words, and Judd Apatow-esque geek-chic attitude are a perpetual thorn in his side. The lyric “Daniel Johnston has written hundreds of great tunes / And I’ve got six, so I guess there’s some catching up to do” from closer ‘If I Died Would You Remember That You Loved Me’ is the closest Black’s sarcastic, self-deprecating act comes to a simultaneously amusing and touching moment. In fact, the whole song is probably a highlight, along with the opener – everything in between sounds like what Mumford and the Whales would sound like if Charlie Mumford or Marcus Fink stopped taking themselves way too seriously and started acting more like those jobbing comedians you always used to see on Comedy Central @ Jongleurs a few years ago, and you now see in prime-time slots on BBC1 on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow even though they’re still as painfully unfunny and cringeworthy as they always used to be.

Fuck you Michael McIntyre.

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