The Vichy Government - Carrion Camping
The Vichy Government is a fairly confrontational name for a band, and, luckily, the music more than lives up to the promise of the name. Well, it does and it doesn't because music really isn't what this album is about. What it is about is a vehicle for the ideas, thoughts and rants of one Manners and Chiltern who, between them, manage to create about as pleasantly toxic an environment as you can imagine. Chiltern provides the music, a tinkering, un-melodic bonempi organ stlye keyboard whilst Manners provides the lilting vocal attacks on pretty much everyone you can think off. Please don't get the wrong end of the stick, however, there's nothing Fascist about them at all, except as far as the music is providing a space for the Manner's words in which nothing else is allowed dominance, see? Think of it in the same way as Queen's 'One Vision', if you like, except perhaps that that particular song could have been written especially for the Third Reich. Never mind.
Anyway, it's perhaps best to describe the album and see if that makes it any clearer. Probably not, but we'll have a darned good try. Take a look at the track listing; the titles give a small hint to the bile contained therein. The opening track, Control Discourse not only contains that wonderful fascism line ("All language is fascist/And so am I") as a reference to the controlling influence of language but also extends it to the context of the songs that follow - "The only battlefield are my issues and my agenda...And if I can't change you/I'll just have you shot."See? For the next thirty minutes or so, Jamie Manners controls the discourse; you just sit back and enjoy. Enjoy, perhaps, being a poor choice of word but there is much in the way of enjoyment to be gleamed from this album.
Take the lyrics, for example. Manners comes across as a pissed off, but stoic, character perhaps best exemplified in this lyric from Arranged Marriages - "You can learn to love anything if you're stupid enough/And let's not pretend otherwise, we all are." Many things seem to annoy Manners, and he is an extremely talented wordsmith. Not only the writing of words, for the writing on the album is very strong indeed, but the delivery of them as well. Manners is not a singer in the manner (ha!) to which you might be accustomed, but he has a fine, sarcastic voice and a wonderful sense of timing. At times, his delivery is deliberately off-key, and this, strangely, provide the album with it's hooks as these are the bits you will, at first, remember most once the album clicks off and out.
The music has been described by the less receptive as 'mildly irritating', but this, though apt, is a massive disservice. The plodding, thumping bontempi organ style hooks and tunes do get under the skin after a few listens. It's twee, comic and lends wonderful backdrop to the gravity to the proceedings. The happy, lilting beat that accompanies the sinister words "Wait until their fourteen and then show them how the world works" from Arranged Marriages. Elsewhere, Secretarial Elite boasts a lovely, busy riff that sounds like the sort of thing you'd hear on a soundtrack on a nineteen-fifties Public Information film about the new workplace, which, given that the song is a ditty about the sort of career mad idiots you encounter from time to time, is probably deliberate. "While you hid in your room with Joy Division/We got ourselves careers." lilts Manners. Quite.
Perhaps the strongest attack is reserved for the political machinations of Northern Ireland. Orange Disorder contains much that will offend some - "Some inbred piece of shit in a bowler hat and white gloves/Waves a pamphlet in my face and tells me 'This is your culture'/Fuck you/I know my culture/It's Roxy Music/Billy Liar/Brass Eye.." and there's much more of this. It's intelligent, bitter, articulate, wry and very, very funny. Elsewhere, there's a tune about the mysteries of The Prisoner and another about the awful and terrible attractiveness of 'young girls'.Death On The Installment Plan is an almost spoken word lament about the frustrations of simply trying to exist and is wonderfully funny and horribly bitter at the same time. The lyric about visiting agencies and being booted out on the arse all the way down Oxford St will ring true with many.
This is one of the most interesting, and fresh sounding, albums of the year, so far, and we hope that you will easily be able to buy it some time soon. In the meantime, however, you may obtain a copy from the wonderful website that you will find here. Look out for the new single, which includes their take on the ‘War on Terror’ entitled ’The Reichstag is Burning’. It won't appeal to everyone, but that, perhaps, is its strength. It might, just, exist in a genre all of it's very own.
There are some live dates on the way as well, for which details can be found on the site, and, if you can, you are strongly advised to go and have a listen and a watch.