Here is an album that is so terrifyingly middle of the road and soullessly mundane it’s as if it were on autopilot, travelling a pre-ordained path that pays scant regard to any songwriting ideas that are anything other cataclysmic clich�s and sickening blandness.
It has to be a joke, surely. Who calls their backing band The Fluffers? Of all the words available in the rich and majestic tapestry of the English language, entrenched in a culturally dynamic past, meticulously sculpted over thousands of years by a body of diverse parent languages that offers us the most populous and expressive lexicon in the world. The Fluffers. That’s like cradling a new born, and announcing this life-changing miracle of life is to be called Mephistopheles. It just doesn’t work, and is actually quite offensive.
Far from a bunch of halfwit chancers however, Glenn Tilbrook’s The Fluffers have pedigree. Their numbers include Stephen Large (ex-Electric Soft Parade) on keys, and Simon Hanson (former Death In Vegas) on drums. They should really know better than to fraternise with this incredible foray into MOR bleakness. Completing the line-up is Lucy Shaw on bass. That Shaw has a fundamental problem vocally is amply demonstrated by her lead on Product – ironically the only time that Pandemonium Ensues, musically, appears from its own backside, offering up a nice string arrangement and a strong chorus.
Slaughtered Artist (there’s a thought!) brings to mind unconscionably embarrassing fathers at family functions across the land, unashamedly resurrecting youthful ambitions of musical mega stardom via a karaoke machine, blinded by a damning cocktail of booze/age/cock-suredness prohibiting them from keeping up with the autocue, murdering the life out of any semblance of song that stood previously.
The strutting rhythm section and sheeny gloss of Still is reminiscent of Josh Rouse, and stands with Product as a rare (just about) palatable moment of Pandemonium Ensues. Everything else is vomit-coaxingly wet, and unbearably edgeless.
iTunes indicates that not one song of Pandemonium Ensues ventures past the three and half minute mark. This must be a lie, for as these songs strut past, like a really annoying person gaily oblivious of his shortcomings, it feels as if entire days are being lost. That or Glenn Tilbrook has tampered with the very physics of time, making moments such as the soul-crushing numbness of Interest & Love seemingly never cease their unjustifiable, offensively bland, putrid existence.
Lyrically, Pandemonium Ensues reaches unconquered heights of profoundness, from the insightful “I’m a white horse – clippety-clop” of Melancholy Emotion, to the moving “he thought that he was pretty smart but sadly he’s just dim” of Interest & Love. And with the latter, at least musically, it would seem Tilbrook has prophesied his own conclusion.