It’s easy to romanticise the underground, but as with everything else there’s a lot of rubbish that doesn’t really say anything or do anything but follow a trend at the moment. The explosion of Twee has a top and bottom end of course, and as both draw more and more attention these post-Juno days, this Indelicates bomb couldn’t be better timed.
Nothing against Tweepop of course, which is going on its journey in its own rebellious way, but this is the underground REALLY sticking it to what’s lax in the modern creative world. American Demo is a broad set of tracks which spit immaculate bile here, vintage melodies there, and its very first track is a musical statement if ever I’ve heard one, Julia Indelicate (a founder member of The Pipettes, incidentally) etching out a violin contrapuntal to make the hairs stand on end.
Julia’s Indelicates partner Simon is a former performance poet, and he unleashes The Last Significant Statement to be Made in Rock ‘n’ Roll with a cuttingly poetic, disdainful passion, berating the modern capitalist and philistine arts scene to a repetitive guitar and drum beat before it all explodes into melodies that rub the band’s anger down deep.
The melodies on American Demo are often sweet despite the lyrical content. Our Daughters Will Never Be Free has handclap rhythms to drool at, taking the track off on a happy jig that the current members of The Pipettes could dance too, but of course there’s barbs underneath, and as it happily blazes along we get Julia’s bitingly sarcastic refrain of “let’s just be pretty, let’s just be beautiful, let’s just be retro and disco and twee, we don’t like the song so we can’t sing along and our daughters will never be free”.
There’s terrific opening song rhythms here that give that same feeling of anticipation as the opening lines of your favourite songs. Better To Know is one, a Hefner-esque guitar chug joined by brief piano lines and Simon’s angry but soulful-as-hell vocals. Sixteen is another, a more unsteady, stuttering guitar line this time joined by bongos and handclaps to create a festive sound soon turned on its head by Julia’s corrosive narrative, ironically mourning the underachieving youth scene in typically ambiguous style. It’s the festivity and popness of Sixteen that makes it so ambiguous, and doubly terrific. Julia We Don’t Live In The 60s is another that jumps out and gives a sense of unbridled joy, a quite drumbeat jumping into a high-pitched, shimmering, multi-melodic whirl that Simon roughly decorates with his aesthetic protest graffito vocals.
Then there’s the love song element of American Demo. Stars is romantic to an extent not often achieved or attempted, it’s Bonnie and Clyde romantic, lyrical, in love, worldly wise and beatific. New Art For The People is a contrary ballad to die for, it’s opening lyrics of “but for the cum in your hair, the cocaine in your teeth, you’d be just like the girls, I kissed on the heath” ripping romantic convention to shreds.
We Hate The Kids is probably the most blunt and barbed statement on the LP, a viscous and honestly affecting diatribe that explodes into the contentious catchline of the title, and Unity Mitford is undoubtedly the most overtly beautiful, even straight ahead beautiful track, the lines of “we’re like Romeo and Juliet, in a bunker, shot through the head” resonating deep. Corrosive performance poetry and pop music passion, this is an album on immaculate themes. American Demo really is the aesthetic arm of the outsiders, and The Indelicates right now are pretty much unbeatable.