Thursday, September 25, 2008
Most people probably haven't heard of Psapp. They'll know the music of course; every time they watch Gray's Anatomy and go "oh I like this theme tune" they are psapping, to use the proper verb. That said any American fan of the band would have been sorely tried by the band's refusal to play said song on their last tour of the States; something that may well have undermined their push for the peak of Commercial Mountain.
That said this band is wonderful. Like a cuddly puppy that bites, or your favourite woolen pullover that always smells of home and baked bread and cigarettes. Their first outing, Tiger My Friend, was a lo-fi delight that heavily featured squeaky toys and off kilter melodies. It owed more to the worldview of songwriter Galia Durrant, a poet and beauty of some renown, who's illustrations have adorned all the sleeves for their albums. Their first album for Domino seemed to be a more desperate affair, as if they were trying just that bit too hard to be grown up. Who the hell wants to grow up?
Unfortunately for Psapp they had to go out and tour that album because that's what groups have to do when they get proper record deals, and believe me it's tedious to the max. Everyday you climb onstage and replicate the same set you played the night before to a different group of people. Afterwards there's always another party with a bunch of people who think they know you becasue they've read an interview and heard your singles. For artists who have a little more to say than the usual "we fuck girls we do" kind of rock or rap music it can be debilitating. There are moments onstage when a vocalist can find themselves thinking of doing the laundry rather than performing because the whole event has become just like any other job; one to be handled on auto-pilot rather than something that is an artistic statement. This is what happened to Psapp.
Galia came back to London completely disenchanted with music, and the business of music. Unfortunately for her she had believed that making music was an artform, which it should be, but in taking it out onto a gruelling set of tour dates her delicate, thoughtful, transcendent music became the soundtrack to people drinking, talking and requesting the TV theme. Those of us who know and love her wondered if she'd ever make music again. And she has, and it's great.
The Camel's Back is a better album than both previous outings. Carim Clasmann, producer and co-writer, has crafted a soundscape as beguiling as Tiger but with greater muscle; it puts flesh to the saying "the things that do not destroy me make me stronger". It's as if Psapp have rested, taken note of where it all went wobbly and thrown away any doubts or prevarication. This has original written through it like a stick of seaside rock.
From the life affirming I Want That, kicking of the proceedings, the album draws you in like a strip club barker. Songs like The Camel's Back, Screws and Homicide demand respect. This is an album of rare quality that deserves adulation and garlands. It probably won't get the attention it should because some dreadful fucking covers artist who has dribbled out of the X Factory will release their latest karaoke effort in the same week and Sony Warners EMI will put their millions behind safe pop. This, on the other hand, is real pop. Buy this, don't buy that. In fact buy it here at Domino. Belive me you'll love me for it.
Now all Galia and Carim have to do is turn down the demands to tour. What's the point? Play a few boutique shows and meet some beautiful people, go on telly or do interesting stuff; but don't go "on the road". You're not a rock band and you really don't need the hassle and the expense.