Swansea Sound - Twentieth Century

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Second Album ‘Twentieth Century’ From Indie Agitators Swansea Sound. On their second album, Swansea Sound present a set of songs as infectious as anything from their previous incarnations.  The raw energy of Hue’s old band The Pooh Sticks is still there; the indie pop sugar rush of Amelia’s Heavenly is still as sweet as ever.  But these songs are laced with venom and sardonic wit. Swansea Sound have visited this terrain before: their catchy debut single ‘Corporate Indie Band’ was a sly tribute to a music scene that had lost all its authenticity, with its bands in hock to social media managers: corporate puppets play-acting at independence.   In ‘Twentieth Century’, Swansea Sound take it a lot further, having a good look at the heroes of their youth – the fabled eras of rock, punk, post-punk, electro futurism – and considering whether the prophets that emerged from those scenes were of any use whatsoever. In ‘Paradise’, the electric synth-bleeps conjure up the dated futurism of the 1980s – with all its optimism about a digital nirvana: a nirvana that turned out to consist of Cambridge Analytica,  OnlyFans, Spotify and chatrooms populated with incels. The song is as catchy as hell and might remind you of Magazine. (Swansea Sound don’t think that the Twentieth Century was all bad.) ‘Twentieth Century’, the title track, plays out the egotism of a punk rocker in combat gear, armed with a decent major label deal, singing (with less and less conviction) about revolution: OK, that was grim.  But ‘Far Far Away’ is a pretty straightforward love song to Pete Shelley. He was great. Other tracks turn their attention to the Twenty First Century: ‘Markin’ It Down’ is a duet between Hue, a vinyl obsessive, and Amelia, the owner of a second-hand record shop, with him searching for bargains amidst the over-supply of Yard Act albums, and her trying to suggest something older that might excite him.  ‘Click It And Pay’ is a duet between a harassed home-worker doing some online shopping and the woman in the fulfilment warehouse who’s under pressure to pack his requisites.  ‘I Don’t Like Men In Uniform’ (inspired by Hue’s ageing Yorkshire Terrier Kenny – once a fierce beast, now just grouchy), is about those blokes who used to be aggressive enough to fight anyone, but can’t quite find the energy for a scrap these days. Punk’s nearly dead. Final track ‘Pack The Van’ is a surprisingly elegiac pop song, looking right back to early teenage years, wondering if it’s still possible to access the undiluted idealism and excitement of youth.  And decides that, yes, that isn’t out of the question... All these songs are indie pop, if you insist.  They are full of earworms and they will make you want to dance.  But they are also full of funny, complex, mordant ideas - and maybe that’s why you’ll want to hear them many times over