Modern Sky (label)
11 November 2020 (released)
11 November 2020
‘The Four Five Three’ ‘is named after the 453 bus that carries those from the plush environs of Marylebone, London, W1 to the up and coming, no more slumming (unless you can’t afford the extortionate prices) enclave of Deptford, SE8.
The Jacques (Finn O’Brien on voice and guitar, Elliot O’Brien as drummer, Harry Thomas tinkling the keyboards and James Lay on ace bass) are a Bristol/London hybrid who on this debut survey and weigh up the meaning of that route and dissect the views from the windows and the vagaries of the crossed river journey and eventual destination. An existential excursion.
The album’s cover is an interesting semiotic bricolage that fuses amongst other things top Commie Vladimir Lenin, Arsenal F.C., a can of Polish lager and a pair of Dr Martens boots. A trans-cultural visual hotchpotch containing signs and symbols that would set Noam Chomksy’s brainwaves aflame.
Finn O’Brien’s delivery (a mix of garbled grumblings and drawled declarations) veers from the laconic with lyrics laden with loquacious lip-lashings to delicate delectations directed at the shackles of organised religion, class boundaries carousing and that timeless subject the ails and travails of love.
‘Born Sore’ has traces of early Blur, a song informed by the Catholic dogma/doctrine of ‘original sin’ and all that notion implies, enforces and constrains. ‘Kiss the Pharaoh’ is a mystical mediation in the vein of Siouxsie and the Banshees that evolves into a reggae breakdown. It all began in Africa.
The exquisite ‘Swift Martin’ is an electro-throbbing plea for religious tolerance (No one's gonna take you to heaven' as the group remind), the squabbling over contested deities as old as the hills yet still a powerful tool of division and destruction.
‘Do me for a fool’ is a glittering ‘New Pop’ blue-eyed soul pale boy funkout a la Orange Juice. The breezy, upbeat sounds at odds with the overall message, that of stealthily being seduced into a relationship of convenience, the blinding realities of (in)difference obscured by complacency. Conundrum: just how do you extricate yourself from the white lies that bind?
‘The ugliest look’ is a class tourism diatribe (borne from observing Goldsmiths’ students masking their private school paths), a reverse infra dig at those who dress down affecting a lower class look, the THEMs (as style critic Peter York would term it) sporting a saloon-styled partial haircut that sets most back a week’s food wearing . Set to a poppy, peppy, preppy sound that recalls late period Stranglers in its effortless chord changes, this is a ‘Common People 2.0’.
Overall, it’s a multi-varied collection that encompasses a variety of inspirations, sounds and moods. Dissonant and resonant in equal measure.