"Turrah" by Monday NightsReview
A bit of a milestone for me here: this is the first review of a Monday Nights single by me which involves a song I heard them play live before I did so on record: consequently you might say that I'd pre-formed an opinion of "Turrah": not that that precludes me from reviewing it now I trust, in advance of its forthcoming release early in July.
In fact as the band's lineup has evolved (and if you look back through my previous reviews you'll see differences between who played on several of them), this single marks a convergence between the current live configuration & the studio one, so those I reported on last time are those on this record.
As noted quite recently in an article, I like the unconventional, the challenging & the unorthodox: I can't write about "music" whose starting point is trying to copy previously written material or simply "fit in" with expectations: hiding within genres for safety too.
Therefore when a band themselves identify one of their songs as being "weird" then I know we are probably onto something interesting.
In fact the song has multiple inspirations & so is wonderful synthesis of various factors, experiences & inspirations which the band processed into something entirely of itself. When other bands as diverse as Glass Animals & The Rolling Stones (from their ‘Aftermath' period), a Scouse co-worker & her valediction (hence the title), awareness of pressures on women are entered into the equation yet the song as a whole "..is about saying goodbye to what you've known your whole life and striving for something better…" then you've got songwriting at its most sophisticated at work: which fits easily with my comments on their earlier work.
Skilled & subtle as their playing has always been, it's tempting to perceive in "Turrah" an extra confidence & panache engendered by it being recorded by a functioning live ensemble. I think I'll succumb to the temptation though.
Having listed the various ingredients which went into the pot, I'm afraid that alone isn't much of a guide to the actual sound of the song. The catalysing effect of Monday Night's musicianship created something altogether more than a sum of the parts. The story is based vaguely on the sort of one Mick Jagger was also interested in, but if you are expecting a 60s sound, you are mistaken. Mostly contemporary in form, it has a sort of 90s dance vibe going on in there too: instruments & even more so vocals are more treated than on stage and the feel is more languid than the more anthemic version I heard in Coventry. Mind you, in the studio I find it hard to believe that competing with massed revving engines was the same challenge. Frankly it works both ways in my opinion.
We are rather fortunate round here that Lead Singer Syndrome isn't very prevalent (if if it is, I don't usually review infected organisms) and in Jacob Palmer, they are fortunate to have a singer who serves the song rather than showcasing himself (though as co-author he'd have a good reason to do so I suppose), yet the same can be said for the other members of the band (Ali Hutton on drums, John Glanville on bass, Alixe Whilmshurst on lead guitar/backing vocals and Hannah Kent on keyboards & backing vocals), none of whom show off despite clearly having the skills. It's most impressive commitment to the music, a disciplined & exemplary one, which is one of the reasons I rate them so highly.
The other is their ability to craft the most unusual songs without veering off into the abstruse or unlistenable. They are presumably the only band to have a song called "Petrichor" and few will have written one like "Dorian Gray" or "Turrah": accessible songs (I've now seen them danced to) but with depth & sophistication unspoiled by pretension. The only possible alternative source of such material which I can even imagine would be the most bloated of 1970s prog rock whose approach would have been to say "how clever we are" and accompany the idea of the songs with excessive length, complexity & overbearing solos. Monday Nights couldn't be further from that horrific vision.
If you like your music thoughtful, thought provoking, heartfelt & made with love & care, then you really need look no further than Monday Nights.