The Victorian English Gentlemens Club – Bag Of Meat (This Is Fake DIY)

victorian english gentlemens club bag of meat

At first the triumphant riff that leads the title track of this third LP from Cardiff-based art-rockers and guitarist/vocalist Adam Taylor’s bark has a distinctly Talking Heads vibe, it feels like a mellowing of the group whose last record (Love On An Oil Rig) was generally a raucous cacophony. Once the angular, off-kilter chorus comes along though there’s more a flavour of the VEG Club of yore; though the line-up here has changed with James Griffiths taking over the drumsticks.

Second track A Conversation is a lively tune with a sing-song chorus of ‘If you’re gonna cut my head off do it properly’ summarising the macabre wit that dots the band’s best work. Richer Than My Tribe has a lumpy strut that dips up and down into sharp snaps of silence, Taylor’s voice carefree and more buoyant than it has been before, complimented as usual by the spooky backing vocals of Louise Mason.

I Lost My Face In A Fast Car Race kicks off with kalimba and Mali-flavoured chanting, before twisting its tribal energy into something suitably rock-n-roll, though it’s Rebel Without A Cause as remixed by David Lynch, lurching off into a mysteriously hushed and distant asides before lurching back out of the shadows in wonky clamours. There’s something oddly jaunty to Fire In The Wife, Grifftiths drum a skipping metronome to Taylor’s almost Monty Python-esque squawk.

For some reason Pistol Whipped has a sound that reminds me of a tragic, ailing holiday camp, maybe it’s the tracks oddly wistful wurlitzer-like sound and Taylor’s despondent cries of ‘Offer you nothing!’ The feel of an eerie, nightmarish fairground continues in the dizzy My Imagination Can’t Save Me Now, Mason’s backing vocals cooed but strangely threatening, whilst Taylor wails; ‘I gripped the carpet with both my hands/Felt like I swallowed glass.’

On the bright, chipper choruses of As Jungle Drums Rang Across The Amazon We Held Our Heads And Screamed the band sound probably as close as they ever will to Bananarama, the group seems to be more usually compared to the likes of The Pixies and there’s a sense of that group to Card Trick With A Chimp, though across this record as a whole the band have stamped their own distinctive personality more strongly than on previous LPs.

Penultimate John Denver’s Wife flits giddily from tottering verses into rattling cowbell builds up that erupt into an ever increasing flutter of joyful schoolyard choruses. Final track Not Waving But Drowning has a murky The Wicker Man atmosphere, Mason’s voice suitably sweet and sinister, the track collapsing into clunking, rusty sections where Taylor’s voice seems to be trapped within a mechanical beast that increasingly seems to want to tear the entire song apart. There’s a hi-tempo ‘bonus track’ with a pulsing bassline, mandolin and a repeated mantra of ‘I want you dead’, that makes the whole thing sound like a pleasingly scrappy Yo La Tengo demo.

Of the three albums released by the band thus far this is by far the most complete sounding, the tracks seem more a part of a whole than those on previous releases, on occasion nodding to one another with a reference here and there. There’s a lightness as well to the album that – whilst the band have never been glum – feels new and refreshing, bringing out a lot of arch theatricality and gallows humour that gives the records its own distinct personality. A very accomplished record from an already very good band.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.