The Permanent Smilers – One Real Big Identity Crisis (IRL Records)

The Permanent Smilers – One Real Big Identity Crisis (IRL Records)

This is a little gem of a summer record. The debut album from The Permanent Smilers, One Real Big Identity Crisis is a jamboree of lightness and heart all wrapped up in a gingham picnic cloth with an anarchy sign printed on it.

Written over two years, this album is a pulling together of Rich Lemongrower’s work during that time. One Real Big Identity Crisis is markedly English in tone and apparent musical influence. ‘Uh-oh’ is marvellously upbeat and positive with a long romantic outro, ‘You know I’ll be there for you.’ Reminiscent of The Kinks, the track contains full on trumpet, courtesy of Dave Land.

Love is the theme of a number of the songs, capturing the complexity and diversity of the whole experience. ‘Elastic’ takes an easy-going approach to the subject. Over the top of sixties’ keys, Lemongrower sings, ‘You must be made of elastic to always come back to me’, betraying a sense of disbelief in his good luck. ‘You’re the sweat that’s running down my forehead’ but also ‘the tears welling up in my eyes’. So, you know, not so bad. In contrast, ‘You Know Where To Go’ and ‘Just No Good’ are pissed off lovers, spatting over the breakfast table. ‘It Doesn’t Work Anymore’ extends the idea from relationships to washing machines, an interesting metaphor for life perhaps.

In and amongst all this energetic, light-hearted sometimes punky music is ‘Ghosts’. A philosophical mid-point, slow and acoustic with something of a Pink Floyd Syd Barrett or, dare I say it, Oasis ballad about it, ‘Something makes you stop and hear the silence/Something makes you stop and question all you know’. There is a genuine seriousness about this track, the masculine inability to express emotion even if you’d like to.

The remaining tracks have a distinct garden fete quality about them, admittedly a very cool, slightly alternative post-punk affair. ‘Voodoo’ and ‘See Through You’ feature what may or may not be a banjo. It could be music to accompany a quirky gardening programme. ‘See Through You’ is the only track with a mixture of a false ending, effects, periodically breaking out into a splendid racket of enthusiastic drums and guitars. It’s a series of mad musical juxtapositions, like a standard lamp in a striped marquee.

One Real Big Identity Crisis closes with a lullaby. The dreamy ‘hmmms’ of ‘Sleepyhead’ combine with the twinkling stars of keyboards and percussion. Very pleasant stuff, indeed.

As a measure of Lemongrower’s last two years of output, this is secure and convincing. The work of an artist in full enjoyment and celebration of his own ability.

One Real Big Identity Crisis will be released on 22nd September through IRL Records.

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