As the driving force behind cult Welsh outfit Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Euros Childs has been involved in some of the most underratedmusic of the last ten years. Now, Pembrokeshire’s finest export has taken abreak from Gorky’s to release his first solo effort, and I can tell you it’snot bad either.
Having been in Gorky’s since he was 15, perhaps the time was right forChilds to do his own thing. One thing for sure is that he has produced acollection of songs which wouldn’t have lowered the bar on any of his band’sreleases, covering styles as varied as country and the psychedelic folkyou might expect.
Chops is only 33 minutes long, but as history has proved it isquality not quantity that really matters. Put together in a room in hisparents’ house over a three-month period, most of the songs on the album areshort and sweet.
Take opening track, Billy The Seagull – a Beta Band style littleditty with no instrumentation – which finds Childs sounding as though he hasjust woken up. The reason is that he had: after writing the song in a dreamhe picked up the dictaphone next to his bed and drowsily recorded it at 3am.Well, otherwise he might have forgotten all about it in the morning.
From that sleepy mode the mood is a lot chirpier on the bouncy Donkey Island, featuring ex-Gorky John Lawrence on pedal steel. An upbeatelectronic number, the opening to what was the first single release soundslike something you might imagine those purple-suited lounge-lizards beforethe programmes on E4 would play. A world away from the folksy psychedelia ofGorky’s, but a lot of fun.
There is a sense of humour throughout the album. Lyrics like;”Donkeys are like you and me” underpin this, on a song inspired by a versionof the Can-Can performed by 70s Krautrock icons Can. As that wouldhave been, it really isn’t meant to be taken seriously, and this is alaid-back feeling that permeates the whole release.
There are three Welsh language tracks on Chops, and I don’t know about youbut I think there’s something fascinating about the Welsh tongue. Justlisten to Dawnsio Dros Y Mor (which translated means Dancing Across The Sea,by the way). It sounds like such a spectacularly complicated language that it ismesmerising and you find yourself humming along just as if it was inEnglish.
Hi Mewn Socasau, meanwhile (that’s Her In Leggings for those not fluentin Welsh) sounds like John Lennon of the Valleys. The Poodle Rockin’ ofthe album, this piano rocker tells the story of a guy in 19th century Walesgetting it on with a lady blacksmith… as you do.
The humour continues with Latin-tinged ballad Costa Rica. Complete with shakers, for that sambaauthenticity, Childs tells the tale of a feller working on his brother’sice-cream stall who becomes romantically involved with a peanut vendor. Justlike with blacksmiths, I’m sure it happens all the time.
Despite the bizarre and admittedly amusing themes, the endearing qualityof the music is not lost. Even the three-part folksy Stella Is A Pigmy, allthree parts being under a minute in length, are in no way simply albumfillers.
Perhaps the most Gorky’s sounding song on this fantastic solo debut byChilds is Circus Time. Wistful piano-melancholia, it is heartbreakinglybeautiful. When Euros’ sister Megan enters on violin it’s enough to bringyou to tears.