Husband and wife duo Holly Ross and David Blackwell have been popping out their own peculiar take on scuzzy pop-punk as The Lovely Eggs since 2006. Over the last nine years they’ve built up a considerable following with a fine body of work, one that embraces a DIY punk ethic and a somewhat skewed take on everyday life that taps into classic comedy and absurdist ideas.
Magic Onion for example appears to reference an old Ronnie Barker sketch where the lead character provides his own echo. Importantly, there’s a refined mix to this approach; so, whilst there are definitely peculiar and funny moments, they’re wrapped in perfect musical nuggets and could never be dismissed as comedy songs.
The album kicks off with Ordinary People Unite, a roaring call to arms with its huge fuzzy riff that digs in and never lets go and calls to mind the likes of Verruca Salt. It’s pure grunge in its construction, zipping back and forth between loud and quiet sections. The opening riff could be cribbed from Melvins, when it drops out; Ross’s almost demure vocal delivery calling for unity is a wonderful act of misdirection.
This being The Lovely Eggs, there’s plenty of strange ideas, such as holding convention on top of a massive bonfire for all the sensible people. It’s the kind of skewed thinking that informs their songwriting, and traces a lineage to the likes of Half Man Half Biscuit or Frank Sidebottom. This approach can probably best be summed up on the grimly dark and daft headed I Nearly Saw A Stabbing Last Night, which tells the tale of something awful but with a warped sense of humour. “I nearly saw a stabbing last night” croons Ross over an appropriately spiky guitar line “but no I never, cos it was rotten weather”. All it lacks is a pinched-nosed “thank you” at the end.
The frantic punk pop of Do It To Me meanwhile recalls the Ramones no nonsense bubblegum punk whilst simultaneously harking back to a time when Ross’ previous band Angelica were routinely compared to Kenickie. Cilla’s Teeth points to why those comparisons never really held much water, with its churning riff and critique of music industry business practice, there’s a dark fire at the heart of Ross’ music that Kenickie never really had. The curious folk-meets-punk of The Investment finds Ross playing the parts of a salesman and a resistant potential customer. It’s quirky, certainly, but somehow still packs an emotional punch. In a similar vein is Forest Of Memories, which closes the album in a strange and curiously downbeat manner.
Backtrack a little, however, and there’s plenty of light here. Magic Onion in particular is a delightfully daft blast of word play, and thrumming guitars. Beyond that possible allusion to that Barker echo, echo, echo, there’s a slew of puns – and of course the depiction of a man with the qualities of an onion. Weeping, rings and layers peeled back, no onion related opportunity is left untouched; it could almost be the narration of a children’s book were it not for The Lovely Eggs decision to layer these surreal Beatles–esque words with driving, droning chords; it’s like The Fall at their peak.
Music finds the band celebrating music in a glorious stomp that also finds time to praise nuisance, and big teeth (obviously). It’s a song that sums The Lovely Eggs up rather nicely; they’ve got music, big teeth and nuisance certainly, but they’ve also got a keen ear for a hook, a glorious sense of humour, and are masters of nuance, not just nuisance.