World Service Project – For King & Country

for king and country(RareNoise Records)

This is an impressively cocky outing from the British Quintet led by keyboardist Dave Morecroft. It sounds and feels like a step up from previous releases, not so much in direction but in consolidation and focussing of energy.

The opener, Flick The Beanstalk, has all the band’s strong elements in place: hard rhythms, pumping yet adventurous bass, powerful horns whether in tandem or in electronically-enhanced mad excursions, and Morecroft holding it all together with spooky keys, hooky vocal lines and the occasional scream.

There is very little let-up in intensity and drive over the eight tracks, though they are not without variety. Repeated listening does throw up the frequency with which they favour repeating the same melodic riff in a series of different moods and styles – Go Down Ho’Ses is an obvious example. It can get a little predictable.

I know the label punk-jazz gets bandied about – and it’s embraced by the band, Morecroft saying “Punk-jazz for me is more a reflection of rebellion… Maybe it’s jazz but it’s played with an f-you to the establishement” – but I’m not sure it’s a particularly apt description of any jazz music, at least not this kind.

A crucial part of the ethos of Punk when it was a rock movement in the 1970s was, it seems to me, its DIY nature and its relative inarticulacy. It was a powerful kind of naive art, and that was the attraction. It was music driven not by musical ability but by anger. Indeed some thought musical expertise and training was a real no-no.

To hear musicians as accomplished as these espousing punk attitude feels a bit like public school boys donning torn leather and safety pins for the weekend. But I guess that’s a marketing qualm rather than a musical one. What World Service Project more strongly echo is a kind of post-prog, blokey, art-rock rage. And in that regard they really are very good indeed.



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