Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Red20 - 'Love Me, Or The Baby Gets It' album review

Red20
Love me, Or The Baby Gets It!
Independent Release

This was never going to be an easy review to write, was it? The new album from the act I recorded three albums with is almost here, and I have been lucky enough to hear it in all its splendour. Red20 mainman Alastair Turl, my longstanding musical colleague and friend, is the whole band on this fifth outing under the Red20 name. After the lengthy silence since 2006’s Citizen Stain opus, Al is back with what is quite possibly the Red20 album he was meant to make all along. This album has gone through countless different versions in recent months, and a sudden burst of productivity has changed the tracklist again with astonishing results.

‘Contraband (Party Mix)’ gets things off to an ideal start, showing the listener that this isn’t the Red20 of yore. An electro-funk-pop-industrial stew, it showcases his improved vocals and heightened sense of freedom perfectly. ‘Everything is Money’ and ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ further underline his move into pure electronic territory, and while the album does have some moments of glam-tinged guitars, it is almost completely synthetic. It works very well, too.

While three of the five Red20 albums featured my metal shredding all over them, this one feels like the logical follow-up to ‘World in Flames’, the Red20 debut that featured Al and a computer. It really does feel like the closet thing to getting inside Alastair’s fevered mind. With demented vocals ranging from croons and 80s pop stylings to rapping and Mike Patton-esque screeches, this is the clearest look at the mind of this musical genius we have ever had.

‘The Wedding Song’ is bouncy and cheerful, just don’t listen too closely to the lyrics or you may lose a little bit of your soul. I do believe this is the first time I’ve heard a song with the lyric ‘Stick your finger in my hole’ as part of its main refrain.

‘Experienced’ scares the hell out of me from the opening moments of the prayer-styled speech, but then it hurtles off into unsettling swing-flavoured mania with a singalong chorus and Al giggling in the background. ‘NME’ is great, with some blissfully amusing lyrics. The thing is, this isn’t mania for mania’s sake- this is a pure sound that has been honed over years of tweaking and twiddling. It is possibly the most well-rounded Red20 album since ‘The Red Album’, and it is most certainly the closest to the vision Alastair originally had for Red20.

It is along these lines that the album continues, until coming to a glorious close with the quite honestly titled ‘The Death of Everything Red’. While ‘Love Me, Or The Baby Gets It!’ is nowhere near as harsh and much more polished than all of the previous Red20 albums, it is also one of the purest and the most driven, and I wish Alastair all the best with whatever comes next.

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