The Correspondents – Puppet Loosely Strung
In the trendy, neophillic world of music, everyone is perpetually looking to say that they “discovered” a band. That they were at that breakthrough gig. That they championed them when others hadn’t heard the name. It’s a sentiment that can be heard echoing around the skinny-jean-adorned streets of Hoxton and beyond.
By the time a band has released their first album, six months down the line, they’re old hat. Yesterday’s news.
Eclectic London duo The Correspondents are a very different animal though, not least because they seem to have already been around for an eternity.
Owing initially to the fact that everyone seemed to “know someone who knew them”, then supported by the ferocious live reputation they steadily built (culminating in barnstorming performances at Glastonbury, Bestival and Secret Garden Party), the band have for some time seemed a household name. Which was an impressive feat, given that (one limited edition EP aside) they had never actually released anything.
DJ Chucks and flamboyant frontman Mr Bruce have taken their time in putting together a dozen tracks, a feat which is all the more impressive given the pair’s reluctance to take the easy option and include old live favourites like What Happened To Soho or Jungle Book mash-up, King Of The Swingers.
Puppet Loosely Strung opens with quirky slow number What Did I Do, a meandering waltz that occasionally breaks into dubby bass, before heralding in the familiar scat-heavy swing territory of excellent lead single Fear & Delight.
Many a promising young band has run aground on their failure to translate the energy and excitement of their live sets onto record. Often a performer, stripped of the bells and whistles of their live show, can disappoint in the confines of one’s own headphones.
It’s not easy to replace the experience of watching Mr Bruce dancing on a treadmill while looking like a court jester on acid, for example. Indeed the band’s natural showmanship could well have been the metaphorical albatross that led to letdown.
Happily, this appears not to be a concern for The Correspondents, owing to the evolution of the pair’s songwriting. Chucks’ basslines groove exquisitely on tracks such as Kind Of Love, while Mr Bruce’s witty vocals now have a great range of depth and annunciation, proving the singer to be much more than merely the gifted scat man that he started out as.
The variety on show here is a huge positive. From the 80s feel of The Last Time, to the futuristic Alarm Call via the underlying swing revivalism of the whole thing, this is a release that is hard to pigeon-hole in terms of a defining era. In sounding a little bit like a lot of things, yet nothing much like anything in particular, Puppet Loosely Strung is a breath of fresh air in a music scene that often appears lost for ideas.
The Correspondents will doubtless continue to wow fans on stage, that much is guaranteed. However what is genuinely pleasing is that, on this evidence, they have the ability to do so on record too.
It is a rare gift.
Puppet Loosely Strung is released on Monday 10th March and is available on iTunes
by Harry Harland