A couple of years ago, two York teachers achieved an unlikely World Cup-themed hit (ok, it was No. 100 for a week, but that is pretty good going these days); Robin Parmiter and Ian Wilson, AKA Discomister, released ‘Bring It Home’, an England-endorsing football song that made them minor celebrities with YouTube views well into six figures.
A couple of years on, and the duo are releasing their debut album, Cool Is Dead, which showcases their quite singular sound, veering between playful, spiky pop to an occasionally more earnest rock sound. The former serves them better.
‘Magical’ kicks things off and has Parmiter’s distinctive, almost-twee vocal, (that isn’t in any way a criticism), sitting on top of a track that brings to mind something that Pop Will Eat Itself might have conjured up at precisely the moment they decided that the grebo life may not be for them.
‘Feed The Rich’ meanwhile is a politically-driven song that draws on the duo’s experiences in state education to make some more than valid points. The Kaiser Chiefs-style “Oh oh oh” backing vocals punctuate probably the most immediate track on the whole record.
‘I Am You’ comments on the power of music to elevate the soul – it is a cleverly-written and touching piece: “A boy with a drum / Speaks with his thumbs / Feels like he’s found a new voice”. It also has an infectious chorus with swirling psychedelic organ sounds adding to the mix.
‘The Cool Cowboy’ is a change of direction altogether, beginning as an acoustic-plus-guitar lament before bringing in bottle-neck guitars and a cacophonous ending, while ‘Your Faults’ has an interesting electronica texture underpinning another genuinely touching lyric, this time addressing the fact that ones faults may actually be seen as attributes by others. It is like a mini self-help course.
‘Let It Roll’ jars a little in the context of the album – in the sense that it doesn’t really feel that it belongs to this record at all. It has a more serious country-rock feel and although it adds to the eclectic nature of the album, it perhaps might not appeal to the same audience that the more quirky, poppy songs do. In truth the album dips a little at the start of ‘Side Two’, ‘Kettle’ also not quite managing to pick up the pace of the first half again.
‘Traitors and Saints’ steers things back in the right direction, its understated electronic background playing host to an insistent guitar riff which becomes quite addictive over the course of the song. The album is wrapped up by the epic title track, which after five and a half minutes of melancholic (and quite lovely) guitar work, suddenly speeds up for its last 30 seconds or so to bring a climactic feel to the end of the record.
Cool Is Dead is an eclectic and often entertaining beast. It looks as if Discomister may yet make it to the knock-out stages.
Cool Is Dead is released on 6th January.