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The Voyeurs - Rhubarb Rhubarb

"Rhubarb Rhubarb"

Release date: 10 November 2014
The Voyeurs Rhubarb Rhubarb
06 November 2014, 09:30 Written by Chris Todd
The Voyeurs (previously prefixed by Charlie Boyer and) appeared amongst the wave of British indie acts spawned from the 2009 Primary Colours by The Horrors. Since then, there’s been a plethora of kinda psych, Krautrocky, shoegazey indie bands with disaffected malnourished lead singers flanked by guitarists who look like girls. This has led to some fantastic British bands, TOY, Spectres, Telegram, Hookworms, The Voyeurs lie naturally amongst these bands but their debut long player, 2013’s Clarietta didn’t quite match the promise of the singles that preceded it.

This second album, released just eighteen months later is certainly more robust - Clarietta was weedy sounding at times, but Rhubarb Rhubarb rectifies this. Ditching their Velvet Underground go Marquee Moon shtick of previous material, a more British sound is apparent this time; from the Ray Davies influenced lyrical observations using overtly London accented vocals, to the overall sound which fuses early 90’s Britpop with ‘70’s glam, at times a shimmer of Marc Bolan is apparent, albeit a much less sexy version.

Opening track “Train to Minsk” distils the entire album’s influences into one song: Glitter Band drums, crunching guitars, swirling 80’s synths, and a pseudo football hooligan chant of “GO GO” drives a number that is both sassy and smart. Boyer has stated that their debut album was recorded as live, whereas this one is more of a studio album, Clarietta‘s downfall was down to a meat and two veg approach, whereas this time, everything sounds much more considered, from the song writing to the production. “Pete the Pugilist “and “Stunners” are bass heavy and hooky, electronic squiggles here, a jagged post-punk slash there, these are two of the highlights both of which reference pre-Britpop bands such as Kinky Machine and Mantaray whilst sounding as contemporary as Teleman.

“The Smiling Loon” has them operating best: its low paced and gnarly, uses a slicing Joey Santiago influenced riff amongst psychedelic backwards guitar and synths, with a nonchalant chorus of "You say oh crumbs / What have I done /Just having fun". When Boyer cuts out the wailing indie vocals as he does here, he comes across as the sinister bastard child of Ariel Pink and Syd Barrett; it’s a really appealing sound which they should concentrate on perfecting next time.

“Damp Walls” contains some of the very best sounds here; the closing two or so minutes really showcase how musically tight The Voyeurs are. Urgent, spikey and spooked, it’s the kind of elongated instrumental passage that TOY excel in so well, but here, The Voyeurs show that they’re just as effective as fucked up psych-pop. They repeat this act just as effectively on the closing track “French Fancy”, on which they sneak in a Dennis Wilson in 1977 L.A feeling of coked up decadence.

Elsewhere The Stranglers go camp of “Say You Love Him (And Choke)” shows an ability to bash out a pop track, while the lush and orchestral “May Will You Stop” is the kind of slinky lysergic RnB, we thought only Connan Mockasin was capable of previously.

Rhubarb Rhubarb, despite being a highly accessible record, does take time for its intentions to be made clear. Initial plays may have you thinking it’s just another album by an indie band going slightly electronic; a lot of the touches are textural, and the musical tweaks they’ve made to their sound are subtle. This time round, despite still being pretty transparent with their influences, they are not totally overcome by them, and it results in The Voyeurs making a collection of songs more than worthy of a surreptitious peek.

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