…in which two blokes who were in long-forgotten Peel show faves The Dandelion Adventure over 30 years ago reunite and make the best album of 2018. By some considerable margin. Shut Up! Yo Liberals! is an absolute riot. It’s the psychedelic indie-dance krautrock agit-pop album you didn’t know you’d been waiting for since, ooh, about 1988. It’s a funny, funky, furious stew of a record that takes in techno-fear, fashion disasters, Brigitte Bardot, redneck Trump voters, Billy Liar and much more besides. It’s like John Cooper Clarke fronting Black Grape or King of the Slums. It’s fucking ace.
The Common Cold are old-school. They don’t buy into the high-paced always-on digital age. “Stop the traffic, I can’t hear the radio!” they complain on frenetic opener ‘Stop the Traffic’. They’re paranoid about digital surveillance. “They’ve got drones with bugs, and bugs with drones…They know which way you vote, and which way you swing/They know they know EVERYTHING!” they warn on the fantastic ‘Tapped’, on top of a huge filthy guitar riff.
The Common Cold are willfully unfashionable. ‘The London Look’, the standout track here, is a hilarious tale of fashion cluelessness (“I thought a supermodel was an Airfix Spitfire, a supermodel was a Harrier Jump Jet…All the mags wanna know what I take/TO MAKE MYSELF LOOK SO OUT OF SHAPE”) set to an irresistible swampy groove straight off Happy Mondays’ masterpiece Bummed (to which this album is, in many ways, a successor). It also features the funniest lyric I’ve heard in years – “I turned heads – in an Exorcist way“. Many of their reference points will baffle younger listeners – ‘Pretty Julie’ for example, which is the first song since The Smiths’ ‘Frankly Mr Shankly’ to be inspired by John Schlesinger’s classic 1963 film adaptation of Billy Liar (“Caught in the headlights of a kitchen sink drama, you can’t get lost when you’re going nowhere”), and which climaxes with singer Mark Wareing standing on the platform begging Tom Courtenay to get on that train (“YOU SHOULD’VE LEFT THE SUBURBS FOR THE CITY! YOU SHOULD’VE CAUGHT THE TRAIN WITH JULIE CHRISTIE!”).
The Common Cold are angry. ‘Bored of the Bayou’ takes aim at working-class right-wingers, Wareing sneering “I’ve seen your type before, bad teeth & educa-SHUN” like Lydon, whilst a sampled voice whines “His middle name is Hoo-sein! Are we really gonna vote for somebody with a name like Barack Hoo-sein Obama?!” All of it set to an utterly righteous groove.
And The Common Cold are surrealists, spoken word poets right up there with the recently departed Mark E Smith, Shaun Ryder, and the aforementioned Dr JCC. Wareing spits out deliciously random one-liners throughout. “Hey Mr Jagger, lock up yer daughters!”, “A top corner free-kick! Top corner!”, “You know you’ve got a problem when Gene Hackman’s on yer landing!” and suchlike. The epic ‘Napoleon’s Index Finger’ takes in Moses, Withnail & I, the French port of La Rochelle, Ringo Starr, Stalin and Laura Ashley before reaching a climax which combines a truly beautiful synth crescendo with the bathos of Wareing trying out his schoolboy French (“Brigitte Bardot…cul de sac…Joe le taxi”). And closing track ‘Body Language’ is pounding krautrock with a big dirty stinkin’ bass riff over which Wareing raps unfathomable cut-up poetry (“It’s not finished he said, it’s not finished, dragging his club foot across the dancefloor. Set the radio on fire!”) and leaves you feeling that, if The Common Cold have got more of this kind of stuff in the locker, we may not miss MES quite as much as we thought we would.
Album of the year? No contest. Voting closed.