31 July 2012
listen: go-kart mozart
Our resident music enthusiast takes a look at a head spinning new album by British novelty rock band, Go-Kart Mozart.
Fronted by one of the last true English eccentrics, Lawrence Hayward, Go-Kart Mozart are back with a deeply dark, often hilarious and entirely uncompromising view of the trashy shopping malls and trashy TV, the cheap liquor and even cheaper sex that constitutes the apex of modern living in 2012.
Go-Kart Mozart’s music is about as far away as you can get from Lawrence’s original band Felt, which was responsible for some of the most beautifully abstract music of the 80s, but does draw plenty of inspiration from his arty 90s reincarnation Denim which unwittingly created the blueprint for Pulp’s mega breakthrough ‘Common People’.
All tinny electro pop, cheap cabaret synths, Glitter Band drums and fuzzy guitars, Go-Kart Mozart is novelty rock at its very best.
It’s a hilarious and wild ride. Yet one senses that not far under the surface lurks some very personal inner demons – Lawrence’s personal battles with drugs and mental health issues are well known (those who are curious would be well advised to track down the documentary ‘Lawrence of Belgravia’).
It all begins with ‘Lawrence Takes Over’, where he outlines his plans for world domination in a dazzling three minutes of bewildering styles, before the truly remarkable ‘Retro Glancing’ where Lawrence’s dark side first rears its bitter head “I left you with nothing but a screaming ass kid, I made it my business to make sure you failed miserably and you did, your former glory is a distant pawn shop haze, the rags that you’re wrapped in are remnants from some long lost disco-craze”. The breakdown of relationships becomes a consistent theme – from the sweet lament of ‘Sun’ to the emotional disconnection of ‘I talk with Robot Voice’ – you are never far away from a story of love going horribly wrong.
Lawrence being Lawrence, buried amongst the 17 tracks are some stonking pop anthems that simply pound along – from tales of the English let loose on holiday in Spain (‘White Stilettos in the Sand’) to tales of the English let loose across the country’s wine bars (‘Queen of the Scene’). However, each and every track comes loaded to the brim with some of the sharpest lyrics and social commentary you will hear this year.
Along with Jarvis Cocker, Mark E Smith and Morrissey, Lawrence stands as one of the most unique and maverick figures of the contemporary British music scene. His is a vision that is both unique and perversely single-minded. ‘Go-Kart Mozart are on the hot dog streets’ will undoubtedly extend Lawrence’s 30 odd years of abject commercial failure. You shouldn’t let such an inconsequential fact stop you from exploring the man and his music – they simply don’t make them like this anymore.
Perhaps the final word should be left to the man himself: “Go-Kart Mozart have offered us their contempt. The entire album is a rag bag of contemptuous attitudes. Contempt for art, contempt for sex, contempt for their country and most especially for the audience that might be listening. All this, it must be said, is not perceived through a tin air or a dim mind, but through a widescreen composition of what ails us most. While we are lost in our fallacies displaying an acute distaste, we are forced to finally see our own reflection and scream back in abject terror…”
I just can’t help but wonder if he’s enjoying the Olympics.