BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Justin Currie: The Great War (Ryko/Southbound)

 |   |  1 min read

Justin Currie: As Long As You Don't Come Back
BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Justin Currie: The Great War (Ryko/Southbound)

Some of these songs heard at a distance -- just the sharp pop and guitar jangle coming through -- and you'd pin Justin Currie as a smart power pop singer-songwriter who might give the charts some real damage.

But my guess is most people don't want emotional pessimism, venomous songs about partners and a seething rage bordering on self-loathing -- not to say a wide misanthropic streak -- as part of their daily lives.

That's a shame because this emotionally stark, acerbic  and sometimes downright nasty album -- by the former singer-songwriter of Del Amitri -- fires off some exceptional songs which will have you stopping and wondering "Does he really mean that?"

On You'll Always Walk Alone he reminds you in a beautiful ballad that this is a terrifying singular existence: "When you're swooning at the sinking sun with that special girl you string along, and from the shore you throw another stone . . . remember you'll always walk alone". 

And that to a lovely melody -- and then there's the gentle pop chime and soaring tune of Can't Let Go Of Her Now which is a desperate cling to the hope of love amidst his pessimism: "She makes a mockery of all I hold life to be, but in the end I come back home".

You may squirm at Everyone I Love which opens with "Tonight I'm gonna hurt everyone I love just to see if they love me . . . let my loathing out for a walkabout" or the relentless catalogue of negativism on the eight minutes of The Fight to Be Human (with the refrain "I hate the world they gave me": "I dig into my past now, I dig into my wrist to recapture the last time I felt the knife twist . . . I used to believe in the goodness of man but not anymore since I became one of them."

But this dark stuff -- which makes the young Elvis Costello sound as cheery as Benny Hill -- is also oddly redemptive and when the positive, hopeful moments come they are like a bright shaft of sunlight through black clouds.

And all this is wrapped up in memorable, often melodically seductive songs (the string-kissed The Way That It Falls) which wouldn't sound out of place on radio.

Like the great Matthew Sweet who combined power pop and pessimism, this isn't for everyone -- but believe me, this is one helluva great album. 

Share It

Your Comments

larry - Sep 8, 2010

Great review. There is something about his lyrics that makes you ask questions about your own life...perhaps I just relate...but you can never think you know what this guy is talking about. He manages to write lyrics that can 2 or 3 meanings..which is an art all by its self...never mind the catchy melodies and great vocals. In my experience, I rarely get it right. But then again, I'm a dumb guy.

The Riverboat Captain - Oct 14, 2010

Deeply unfashionable. Bloody brilliant. Tragic that folks who love Guy Chambers-driven Robbie Williams songs will hardly ever hear Justin Currie.

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Various: Timeless Memories from the 50s and 60s (EMI)

Various: Timeless Memories from the 50s and 60s (EMI)

For some of us, many of these 50 tracks will be embedded somewhere in the subconscious from that period before the Beatles broke through and people like Helen Shapiro (whom the Beatles supported on... > Read more

Chris Priestley: Unsung Heroes (Ode)

Chris Priestley: Unsung Heroes (Ode)

The firmly held belief here at Elsewhere -- which is a quorum of one, and I have the deciding vote -- is that New Zealand folk music has never been cool or interesting for most of the Sixties... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Augustus Pablo: This is Augustus Pablo (Southbound)

Augustus Pablo: This is Augustus Pablo (Southbound)

In the mid-Seventies the hypnotic sound of Augustus Pablo pulled 95bFM listeners close to their radio, because host Duncan Campbell used a Pablo piece (the leisurely Up Wareika Hill) as the... > Read more

JOHN PULE IN NIUE (2013): The homecoming

JOHN PULE IN NIUE (2013): The homecoming

John Pule pushes aside another tangle of thick branches, steps through the ankle-grabbing undergrowth, scans the ground which is strewn with coconuts then peers closely into the green canopy... > Read more