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The Nightingales – Perish The Thought

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Difficult, brilliant music for tough times from midlands four-piece

Image of The Nightingales – Perish The Thought

(Tiny Global Productions, out Fri 5 Oct)

How to distill the pure essence of The Nightingales in mere language? Tricky one, that. They are so visceral and complex that new language would perhaps make more sense. Until that time, here goes…

Having formed in 1979, The Nightingales remain as stubborn and original as ever. This brand new album, Perish The Thought, was recorded at Faust Studios in May, and with Faust’s Andreas Schmid on bass and a guest appearance from Hans Joachim Irmler, their distinctive European avant-garde approach permeates through everything- like Brexit never happened! It’s as though a band with wildly disparate influences applied William S Burroughs’ “cut-up” approach to the music itself, a fragmentary but rich exploration of possibilities.

Chaff has Lloyd in louche mode, the crooner gone to seed, before dissolving into a dissolute singalong.

Wrong Headed Man is like a glam rock stomper fed through a wood chipper. As soon as it becomes comfortable, in a locked groove, it changes tack altogether. The band tease: they cajole, they goad, they tickle the listener into submission.

The call-and-response of Big Dave is irresistible, with Robert Lloyd’s suggestive growls and howls a sharp contrast to Holly Blackwell’s deadpan, laconic vocals and Fliss Kitson’s choppy Toytown run amok percussion.

Kitson is, it must be said, an integral part of the current lineup. Her gorgeous vocals and frenetic drumming bring the powerful female element, as it was when the young Californian Brix Smith joined The Fall in their prime. And while The Nightingales are in no way like The Fall, there are clear parallels – not least in the wayward time signatures, fondness for Beefheart and garage rock, and uncompromising, capricious mood swings.

Meanwhile, It Is is variously haunting, combative and thunderous.

In a world full of pick ‘n’ mix playlists where algorithms dictate taste, The Nightingales are the lone pretzel: salty, knotty and at times, difficult to digest. Which is all to the good. Absolutely bostin’, as they say in the black country. Long may they roar.


Lorna Irvine is a Glasgow based arts critic with a profound fear of marzipan.

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