Album Reviews

Pete Dale And The Beta Males – Betrayed By Folk

(Fortuna Pop) UK release date: 27 February 2006

Ah, Pete. Petey McPete. Petey McPete de la Pete. You’ve done it, haven’t you? When the Milky Wimpshake are away, their Pete Dale will play, right? Especially when there are topical topics abound, ripe for the slaughter under your acoustic leviathon.

Yes, nothing is sacred to this 22-year-old self-proclaimed terrorist (tough paper round, I’m guessing) – ID cards, money, the music industry, Hurricane Katrina, Bob Geldof: they’re all fair game to this guy and his Beta Males (consisting of pals Barry and Jaff from The Futureheads and Phil Tyler of Spraydog).

The result is an LP both charming and confusing, angry yet insipid, enjoyable but unsatisfying. Pete’s subject matters of choice are dangerously flash in the pan with lyrics unwieldy at best, and his vocal style amuses without holding your attention. Rage Against The Machine this is not.

But hey, let’s not get carried away: Menwith Hill is a jolly jaunt against the North Yorkshire spy-base (though a few decades late, perhaps), Saint Bob?! is kitsch protest folk at its very peak and When The Morning Comes hits melancholy’s nail on the head.

And there’s more: Talking Newcastle Nuclear Nightmare’s magnificent spoken-word anecdote relates the tale of the early-nineties Tory government transporting nuclear warheads across the country in unmarked lorries (the stuff of legend, I’m sure you’ll agree), while the rather generous sleevenotes double as Pete’s manifesto. Now that is value for money.

The aforementioned shortcomings, however, prevent Betrayed By Folk escaping the shackles of novelty folk: Pete’s generally obtuse rhyme scheme is confounded by his statement that his peers; “Can’t write words for toffee, so that’s the opposite of me,” – a line delivered with enough sincerity to make you cringe – and call me old-fashioned, but a week of work experience at Keele University writing web pages about eclipses does not qualify as terrorism for me (don’t believe me? Google for “Pete Dale”).

He means well and he’s more than handy with an acoustic guitar (especially one with inflammatory stickers on it), but good old Petey O’Peterson is not yet the master of his craft, with or without the assistance of his Beta Males. Perhaps good protest folk is something born of experience, and at 22, it seems that Pete has yet to learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Worth a spin or two, nevertheless.

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