The Gay Blades

Savages

Written by: DR on 13/12/2010 20:03:24

I know what you're thinking, "what the hell is up with their name?". Well, a gay blade is a "A dashing swordsman; A dashing youth; A gay person, or person displaying homosexual qualities". And errr, also, it's fucking awesome. The awesome-ness doesn't stop there though, because with their second full-length, the duo Clark Westfield and Puppy Mills have created one of the surprise albums of 2010.

Now, I know what you're thinking "are they their real names?". No, they're not. But, they are an example of The Gay Blades' appeal - they don't take themselves too seriously. This attitude intoxicates their music. Not content with playing attitude-filled rock n roll, they've thrown in elements of indie, alternative and something they like to call 'trash pop', the end result being inevitably genre-free and over-flowing with swagger.

The vocal performance and lyrical wit of Clark Westfield personifies this, with a conventions & caution to the wind approach and a performance I'm deeming to be one of the finest I've heard in 2010. Hilarious, tragic, distraught, confused, hopeful - an eclectic mix, but all applicable adjectives. In dirty opener "Rock N' Roll (Part 1)" he writes about cheating on a spouse, with his apparent disregard for said spouse exceeded only by his apparent disregard for vocal conventions. He transitions his vocals from low-key croons, to frustrated cries, to a whispered "my baby's..." exploding (like the imagery haha?) with "GONEEEE!!!!!" and back again.

The off-kilter "Puppy Mills Presents" works because of the somewhat unconventional story: two lovers doing anything (anything) to get by, with "get by" being a euphemism for scoring drugs. It wouldn't be a TGB song if it wasn't handled with a sense of humour. Firstly, there's the line "After all, God pays pretty well / we could pay off all the kids to show and never tell" - oh yeah, they went there!; secondly, the bridge is a breakdown into 80s romcom cheesiness, except they juxtapose it with the girl leaving him, and the guy resorting to "one more good line". That song ends with The Gay Blades becoming homeless and forgotten for refusing to "write the hits". And then there's Mick Jagger, about being in a band for money and girls; "Why Winter In Detroit?", which is more about the protagonist missing a loved one than Detroit being a particularly crappy place, and to "Too Cool To Quit", about meeting random slutty girls with daddy issues in order to get over your ex.

In the midst of all their craziness and eccentricities, both lyrically and musically, there are hooks a plenty. Try not to whistle along with the brass chorus of "Try To Understand", or sing to "November Fight Song" or "Why Winter In Detroit?". Ultimately, it's near impossible to pigeon-hole The Gay Blades - you're best thinking of "Savages" as 'trash-pop' meets indie meets alternative meets something dirty meets something else, tied together by rock n roll and a tongue firmly pressed to cheek. Doesn't that sound like something you need to hear?

8

Download: Rock N' Roll (Part 1), Puppy Mills Presents, Try To Understand, Why Winter In Detroit?
For The Fans of: “No Really, I’m Fine”-era The Spill Canvas + Queen + Foxy Shazam + Los Campesinos!
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 05.10.2010
Triple Crown Records

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