State Broadcasters - The Ship and the Iceberg
As the years pass it becomes an increasingly rare treat to stumble upon a record that I instantly feel has been made, like a Thomson Holiday, with me in mind. I don’t know whether that reveals more about my curmudgeonly dotage or the paucity of the current music scene. I am, however, sure that The State Broadcasters have just made my ideal album which, to paraphrase Morrissey, says everything to me about my life. A soupçon of hyperbole on my part of course but, hey, I’m in a dizzy haze, the sun is shining, the beer is flowing and the soundtrack is divine.
Operating under the simple manifesto of ‘no guitar solos’ The State Broadcasters have masterfully crafted an album which confidently sits astride traditional Celtic folk music, alt-country and twee indie pop, effortlessly blending multiple vocal harmonies with a bewildering array of traditional instrumentation. This is a remarkable feat for a band formed by librarians which, astonishingly, only released its first single in 2008. That single, Let’s Make T-Shirts is also included on this release and sets the tone for an album which, lyrically, is dominated by sepia tinged personal introspection and reflection. The perfect example of this being Grass Stains, the effortlessly airy rendition of an abruptly disrupted childhood which spirals from schoolboy sexual awakening to minimum wage parenthood and marriage within 33 weeks. An optimistic, rural counterpoint to the Specials Too Much Too Young perhaps?
There are also moments of fragile, melancholic beauty, such as Archie's Tears which recall the early recordings of the Cowboy Junkies or even After the Fight which uses repetition to create a Nyman-esque scoundscape which effortlessly embraces celtic folk melody.
This album contains all human life, yet never strays far from its own backyard, global politics seem inconsequential when set against these micro tales of birth, death, love, hate, joy and regret. The Ship and the Iceberg is an album infused, like all great art, with hope and beauty and there can be few whose lives would not be enriched by a little more hope and beauty.