Even though they began in the Leeds punk scene, the Mekons never sat comfortably in the straitjacket of punk, and by 1980 they'd largely broken out of it, with keyboard the main instrument on this, their sophomore album. Traces of the old did persist, as on "I'm So Happy," but even there they were tweaked outside the norm. "Intuition" has the first stirrings of what would be their later country direction, while "St. Patrick's Day" even uses brass judiciously. The Mekons were lyrically enigmatic, with an overall sound that veered toward the avant-garde (and echoing early Cure on the deliberately mundane "Chopper Squad"), while becoming more aware of the past (a bizarre rendering of "The Trimdon Grange Explosion"). It's interesting, too, that this was recorded at one of England's leading folk studios. In many ways it helps set the scene for the rest of the Mekons' career -- challenging, sometimes awkward, sometimes funny (like "John Barry"), occasionally amateurish, but always interesting. The more official 1997 Quarterstick reissue adds two previously unreleased tracks, "Another Set of Teeth" and "Killer Ken."
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson