This weekend I’ll mostly be listening to… Microdisney – Everybody is Fantastic. May 22, 2010Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to..., Uncategorized.
What can be said about this group and this album that hasn’t been said before? Irish, early 1980s, sort of expatriate given that they moved to London sharpish from Cork. A marriage of the melodies of Sean O’Hagan and the sharp to dark black lyrics of Cathal Coughlan. But behind that a full band that made this more than just a duo.
The first album proper (‘We Hate You South African Bastards!” was essentially a compilation), “Everybody is Fantastic” was released in 1984 and it is so remarkably different to everything else of that time. It wasn’t post-punk, or rather it was, but it sounds now like something that fell back through a time machine from the 1990s or even later. A curious blend of brittle yet sunny pop, country[ish] inflections, and rage and sadness – the latter supplied by Coughlan. And in that they were very post-punk indeed. I’d almost argue that they and the Go-Betweens shared a certain approach (albeit in the case of the latter it was much much less angry and pointed).
Later albums saw an odd shift, ultimately on “39 Minutes” in 1988 towards a more commercial sensibility that kind of sort of didn’t work. I certainly don’t treasure the last two like the first two (although “Crooked Mile” is actually pretty good). And subsequent incarnations were, I think, a matter of taste. Both the Fatima Mansions and the High Llama’s had excellent moments, but… never quite achieved what the first two Microdisney albums did. On the other hand at least one can say that neither O’Hagan nor Coughlan stayed still.
It’s also worth pointing out that this was an intrinsically political band, both in terms of the personal (and working through the minefield of gender relations) and more broadly. That too added extra rage.
Any track from this album would do as well as the three selected below. ‘This Liberal Love’ with it’s incomprehension at… well, ‘liberal love’…. Before Famine which sweeps along (not dissimilar to Everybody is Dead), ‘Past’, ‘Moon’, ‘Dolly’, ‘Sun’… each of them perfectly worked 3 or so minute songs.
And here’s a curiosity. Somehow they managed, for me at least, to sum up before I’d even arrived in London a certain aspect of that city which six or so years later when I lived there seemed absolutely spot on.
I could go on, but what’s the point? Most of those who have heard them have loved them, and those who haven’t I can only recommend you start now. They’ve certainly been ill served by reissues over the years. And the compilations have been, broadly speaking, worse than useless. I still have the original vinyl, but it took some doing to get MP3s of the first and second albums.
Everybody is Dead
And from the only slightly less better “the Clock Comes Down the Stairs”, the peerless ‘Goodbye, It’s 1987′