Butter my arse discreetly if The Nightingales don’t just keep getting better and better. Not that they were sloppy in the first place. Making consistent albums just seems second nature now to the Midlands maniacs. Four Against Fate sounds both effortless and energised.
Midlands post-punks are in the form of their lives
There’s something just wonderful about the refusal to stay in a stuck “ramalama” landfill indie-by-numbers groove. James Smith’s guitar lines are serrated as knives, but still remain catchy as hell. And percussionist Fliss Kitson trades lead vocal duties with everyone’s favourite anti-crooner Robert Lloyd here.
She’s on fire on tumbling opener Thicko Rides Again and Everything, Everywhere, All Of The Time which is like a deadpan but sweet bossa nova take on The Velvet Underground’s Murder Mystery with its overlapping, disorientating vocals.
The Top Shelf (steady now) is a hip-swinging little garage stomp, and is the most immediate single they’ve done since… Well, since No Love Lost.
Meanwhile, The End Began Somewhere sounds like Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band flirting with country music, until the whole band get sucked into a psychedelic vortex. “The citizens of nowhere sing through their clutter/devalue beauty and stare at their phones”, Lloyd glowers, like a righteous elder indie statesman. Which he kinda is, in the best way imaginable.
There’s even a disarming chamber quartet flavour to The Desperate Quartet, where violin from Clara Kababian and double bass from Madness’ Mark Bedford kicks in and sweeps the band away altogether.
A brilliantly demented dissection of contemporary society, Four Against Fate is like finding anarchist literature among the TV guides in the corner shop racks. It’s as colourful as it’s subtly, slyly subversive.
Neverender even sounds (whisper it) cautiously euphoric and optimistic… albeit in a detached, mumbling way. Truth tellers are often dismissed in their lifetime, but The Nightingales are impossible to ignore, and brilliant at their craft. Welcome back, you beautiful bastards. Awww’right!