You know when you adore a debut album and then you are crushed when it’s followed by a dull predictable sequel? Oh no, I’m not talking about Mr. Keith TOTP, this is a glorious return, I was just thinking about A Rush Of Blood To The Head and wondering why some bands have only a single shot before firing blanks. Maybe if Chris Martin had mates like Luke Haines, Sarah Nixey and James Taylor of The Rocks he could have followed Parachutes with an album as joyous and poptastic as this sophomore classic, the awesomely titled TOTP2.
You know you’re in safe hands as soon as you press play and hear Morrissey Will Never Forgive Me blasting from the speakers. It is not only title of the year but a rocking stomper as the narrator goes through classic Mozzer lyrics and takes the realistic option instead of the romantic one. This means he does take a chance in the underpass for the wanted reward and finding a job doesn’t make him miserable as he knows it will allow him to exist. This leads to the great kiss off ‘Morrissey will never forgive me, that’s okay.’
‘Better Than your Boyfriend’ is a Lemonheads/Sludge type pop sugar rush, telling the girl in no uncertain terms ‘If you think he’s better than me…you’re wrong.’ – Great lyrics and handclaps are a heady combination leading to wiggly Brett Anderson dancing. Irresistible!
‘#Propermusic’ features the beautiful seductive voice of Sarah Nixey of Black Box Recorder but instead of ushering Haines’ sly digs, she states ‘My boys Coldplay have got certified bangers on loop tonight’ (which made me think of them in the introduction, see, I don’t just throw this stuff together…) and then boom, there is a MASSIVE chorus that is likely to see milkmen around the land fired as they proclaim ‘Proper music, proper fucking music, played by men on guitars made of wood’. Is there a better way to wake up the nation?
‘Stupid Rules (For Stupid People)’ laughs in the face of rock’s rules, the fact that you can only listen to something if it’s in the box that you fit rather than because you genuinely love it – as someone who loves Jonas Brothers and Slayer, this one has my name all over it. It also has Eddie Argos of Art Brut talking about bands that you shouldn’t like as they don’t write their own songs. The brilliance of this is that Argos is the least pretentious pop fan I know, having spent time with him at his (little) brother’s house listening to nothing but the sweet pop of Helen Love I can confirm he does not just listen to hard-to-find twelve inches, which is exactly what the song is discussing. Awesome.
‘Goodbye’ brings the pace down and gives you a breather, like a ballad on a mid eighties hair metal album. This isn’t as strange as it sounds, as you can image Keith TOTP and his guitar on top of a mountain playing the break, as it walks a precarious line between Pipes Of Peace and Civil War, falling brilliantly onto the side of W Axl Rose.
My favourite track on the record is ‘Short Song’, which is so heartfelt and beautiful that it literally seems to glow. ‘I think you’re fine, wish you were mine’ he croons as you imagine Olivia Newton John shedding tears on her pillow at the sheer love on show. It also sounds a lot like Nick Jonas’ ‘Introducing Me’ from Camp Rock 2, which is probably a coincidence…or is it? (Yes, I’m sure it is)
The album crashes out with a straight tale of a messy relationship with the cutting lines ‘And if I had the guts to leave you, then I’d be gone.’ And ‘No I’m not blaming you, though it is your fault.’ There’s an unexpected maturity at play here showing another side – it’s not all Wonkavision pop in the real world and Keith TOTP knows that and you suddenly wonder whether he’s going to suddenly turn around and release an OK Computer. Hopefully not yet as there is not enough perfect pop around, there’s TOTP and Euros Childs and Sweet Baboo, all of whom seem to have an endless supply of pop hits falling out of their musical pockets.
It’s a very fine line making amusing songs that are not ironic, making funny songs not comedy songs, spinning occasional spiteful songs with no punch line. Carter USM could do it and pop up here in the all star backing band. Art Brut can do it and various Bruts are here also. It’s essentially a party in a box – I mean Beach Boys Party not Russ Abbott’s Atmosphere. It’s clear from TOTP2 that Keith TOTP is the boy with the most cake and with a guest list featuring various Auteurs, Indelicates, Rocks and Ciccones, the beauty is that we are all invited to the dance.
Pop with a capital P.
TOTP2 by Keith TOTP is released on Corporate Records.