No CV is a pretty inappropriate title for My Computer’s second album, considering who they have behind the production desk. John Leckie has worked with some of the greatest names in music, such as John Lennon and Pink Floyd and has produced some of the best records of the modern era, including that epoch-defining album, The Stone Roses debut.
Not that My Computer is just Leckie’s toy – the two men behind the band are Andrew Chester and David Luke from Manchester, and you’re unlikely to find a duo who are more diametrically opposed. Chester has been diagnosed with depression, and wrote this album as his relationship with his long-term girlfriend was disintegrating. Luke meanwhile is the gadget addict who’s happiest in a club – together they produce some extraordinary music.
The opening signs aren’t good though – Lonely starts off as a feedback squalling, noisy rock song and you’re already filing My Computer away into the already overcrowded ‘new Libertines‘ bracket. But a couple of minutes in, the entire song changes tack completely and is transformed into a starkly beautiful piano piece. It’s quite a gap to go from Chester screaming “I’m so lonely…fuck you all” to a heartbreaking quasi-classical routine, but they pull if off flawlessly.
This kind of invention and originality just pours out of No CV. A case in point is the astonishing The Boy I Used To Be, which begins with a marching band drumbeat and then, over the course of its near seven minutes, changes into a Krautrock style prog epic before segueing into something you may hear at Last Night Of The Proms if the Aphex Twin was in charge of proceedings, before wrapping things up with a piano led coda. You won’t hear a more startling song all year.
Despite the excessive experimentation used on the album, it still retains a mainstream sensibility. Stumble is like a darker version of early Athlete, Some Chemicals is lazily lovely and could easily be the first summer hit about scoring drugs, while Heart drops all the studio wizardry to reveal a beautiful, melodramatic piano ballad.
It’s clear listening to the lyrics though that Chester is one unhappy bunny. Some of the lyrics here are very bleak indeed (“I know I’m a rapist, but I keep it to myself” from Life, to take just one rather worrying example), and with most songs seemingly charting the breakdown of his relationship, it could all become unutterably depressing in other hands. Yet this is where Luke and Leckie’s genius comes in, with the former adding all manner of odd, intriguing sound effects and the latter giving the album a listenable sheen.
No CV has already been compared to that other great ‘challenging’ epic, Radiohead‘s OK Computer, and it’s a fair comparison to draw. Yet No Computer are even more inventive than Thom Yorke and company, and if they keep producing albums of this quality then the future is very bright for them. They say that from great pain comes great art – it’s obvious that Andrew Chester has been through some tough times, but in this album he’s produced a true work of art.