Friday, August 20, 2010

Humber Dogger Forties by John Mouse

Now that Spillers Records has reopened I’m able to buy music again. First purchase in their new locale: Humber Dogger Forties by John Mouse.

This is an album that exhibits a keen sense of place – that place being south Wales. Langland, Trecco Bay, Rhondda, and Cardiff central station all get a mention. And those utterances are often delivered in a fruity Valleys accent. You could say that this record wears its provincialism on its sleeve but I think its ‘Welshness’ is really no more than an expression of the personal.

Childhood, in particular, is a landscape that is richly mined. If I Were An Oyster, Corney Island and Shinobi vs My Little Pony all recall bittersweet infant memories. Mouse’s taste for the naive, though, is often adumbrated with darker moments of death and loss.

But this is far from being a melancholy work. There are many instances of drollery here, such as the fabulously titled Got You Shaking Your Head (like David Gray) and The Last Great Rhondda Romance which has Steve Jones, off the telly, guesting on vocals. Mouse’s lyrics, thankfully, are too clever and too witty for the album to ever stray into novelty record territory.

Although essentially a pop album, other styles and influences do lurk beneath the surface. Roman Numerals For This Year has an early ‘80s feel; Another Number has a touch of country and western about it; and A Misrepresentation Of The Facts is an interesting hybrid of gospel and human beatboxing.

With strong melodies throughout and Mouse’s lyrical assurance Humber Dogger Forties is an absolute delight. Anchored it may be in the landscapes of south Wales, this record’s focus on human relationships ensures that it transcends mere geographical boundaries and hits you straight in the heart, wherever you're from.

*Humber Dogger Forties is available now from the Crocfingers label.