White Town

Socialism, Sexism & Sexuality

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Despite the heavy title, these 20 songs are sweet, innocently sarcastic/searching, romantic love songs with a bouncy buoyancy. Like East River Pipe, White Town is a one-man band -- Derby, England's Jyoti Mishra -- with a simple eight-track, and songs such as the well-named "Heather's Party" and "Why I Hate Christmas" would fit comfortably with early Flying Nun New Zealand bands such as the Clean, the Chills, and the Bats (especially in the bracing keyboards), a little meatier and upbeat than the more sonorous Sarah crowd, but with a similar hushed, gentle persuasion. He also has a nice voice, uncannily like Julian Cope's on the World Shut Your Mouth LP. And when Mishra gets the blues, minimalist, slow tunes such as the poignant, chagrined "Turn Away" ("Looks like I can't forget you...So I try to fill these dull days/With everything I used to hate"), and "Lie, Lie, Lie" ("Help me I'm falling down to earth/I'm losing my self-worth"), he earns empathy. Also like East River Pipe, you get the feeling the guy is trying to give you his feelings and thoughts straight, without spin, an all-revealing affair. Where the LP title comes in is the 14-page personal history, and statement of philosophy and social disrelish, more inspired by sexual experience as a brown-skinned Indian in Britain than the sources he cites (Dworkin, Chomsky, Reich, Trotsky, Marx, Lenin, Bertrand Russell); Mishra seems harmlessly bizarre, and self-absorbed to a fault, but also free-thinking, as noted by his ex-girlfriend Katy: "Jyoti will possibly change your way of thinking in some way." Whatever, credit him with interesting effort; and for happy but sharp-edged pop; the polemics are largely for separate perusal.

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