Chris T-T - Panic Attack At Sainsbury's
Legend has it that Chris TT arrived in London the week Labour came to power armed only with one good shirt and a three stringed guitar, and has been here ever since. Chris TT is one of those artists who is quite difficult to classify; Folky, pop songs with a punk-ish sort of attitude is perhaps one way or, as Q magazine put it, "...A combination of Badly Drawn Boy's ramshackle charm and the observational wit of Jarvis Cocker" Both comparisons are slightly justified, but neither does full justice to the range of styles he's comfortable with and this album gives a fairly good taste of what he's about.
Panic Attack At Sainsbury's was his first album to be released by Snowstorm and surely deserves some sort of special prize for having such a great title. He also deserves some sort of prize for the deranged Dreaming Of Injured Popstars which is one of the standout tracks on the album. Its sort of stream of consciousness parade of popstars, all of whom are injured or incapacitated in some way. It's a fine pop song in itself and any song that contains the verse "Jean Michelle-Jarre is tied upside down/If he pisses himself, he probably drown/Got his head in a hole and his legs in the air/Nobody cares." must be good. It's funny, ironic, knowing and has a great, catchy sing-along chorus.
Humour is a large factor in the output of Chris TT andYou Can Be Flirty is a great example of the sort of humour he does so well. It's thumping, mellow sort of acoustic thrash along about being yourself and not worrying about what other people think of you. A wonderful message, "So don't worry, if your hair is a mess/Or if your Clothes are shit/Or if your fat like me/Or Ugly/Or if people think your stupid." But it's not all humour on this album, lest you begin to think it's some sort of romp along. A Short Story About Wasps is just that, a (very) short story read by Jenny Macro which, if you have ever used the Tube, will fill you with horror.
Elsewhere songs like Bubble and A Hole Full Of Submarine's combine experimental and slightly shambolic pop/rock/country stompalongs with solid songwriting skills to great effect. "I know you'll never break my heart/It snapped before you came/The cracks show through the glue/But I love you all the same" from Bubble sounds just wonderful when delivered with Chris' slightly sardonic, wry voice. He has the ability to put the obvious into words and make it sublime. His voice is distinctive, yet somehow there is a feeling of ordinariness there, as though he's voicing the complaints and pointing out the craziness on behalf of all of us. It's a great talent.
Chris TT is a little gem in a world of blandness. Panic Attack At Sainsbury’s is a great introduction. Though lacking the completeness of later albums, such as The 253, it's still a great collection of songs. It doesn't quite hang together quite as well as it could and there's a tendency to overindulge at points, but there's nothing unforgivable. It's a grower, as they used to say. The haunting slide guitar of F# will stick in your head after a few listens, as will the almost Pink Floyd-esque organs of Oil. A great album from an artist who deserves a bigger audience.