“Freedom is Work” Miserylab (Carbon Neutral Digital) – music review

Miserylab Freedom is Workmiserylab are back with a trade mark guitar tune weaving around mellow vocals and a catchy drum beat: pop with a parallel tension that brings you back for further listening as the deceptively simple sound conceals its complexity. 

The lyrics echo the complexity of sound. TV news is an easy target for satire and miserylab point out in television, “fear is the news here begins television makes it real television is how to feel who to hate what’s to blame”, that only bad news sells and TV has ceased to be a tool but become an end as if ‘being on TV’ is a talent in itself, which of course it isn’t.  The sleeve note points out that “there have been 153 deaths related to acts of terrorism in England since the term was introduced in 1798.  each year in England 350 deaths are related to hypothermia”, yet we fear the former because the latter don’t make the news.  Porl King’s love of ironic wordplay comes to the fore in making a bomb, the title deliberately ambiguous, particularly in the lyrical phrase “they fool the world they rule the world they are making a bomb… …they are making a killing they are making a bomb”.  Compassion shows in way things are “somewhere a child cups its hands weak from crying somewhere a child makes demands wants something buying…”

Vital, vibrant and great value.  Buy it.

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“a death that we can cure” miserylab (Carbon Neutral Digital)

a-death-that-we-can-cure

The title of this fourteen track album is a quote from George W Bush, ‘so that we can see a reduction in death of young children that – a death that we can cure.’ Unsurprisingly it’s a political album, but not a partisan one.  Porl King’s politics are firmly and genuinely humanitarian.  Prescient too the title song mentions, “projects have crashed/ shares have all been cashed/ no need to watch our backs/ we’re protected by our class…”

everything falls apart is a modernised echo, perhaps unconscious, of W B Yeat’s poem “The Second Coming”, particularly ‘things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;/ Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,/ The blood-dimmed tide is loosed and everywhere/ The ceremony of innocence is drowned;/ The best lack all conviction, while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity.’

we are happy the ‘are we happy’ refrain is like a nagging anxiety you suspect lies in the minds of those who wander malls in search of retail therapy and whether they blame themselves for not making themselves happy in the process.  Or they so disconnected they cannot longer sense happy?  Or is happy merely a goal that can be reached with a combination of Prozac and cognitive behavioural therapy if the aromatherapy and shopping don’t work?

Above all, Porl King understands music and knows when to apply drumbeats as a note of anxiety or to complement the melody.  His lyrics have always been rhythmically succinct and audible, a crucial point as their message needs to be heard.  Electronica usually conjures up 80s stalwarts such as OMD, Heaven 17, Bronski Beat or the Eurhythmics, but miserylab give it a very contemporary twist.  a death that we can cure is structured so it rewards re-listening; it’s definitely not disposable pop.  Its anti-consumerism is built to last.  It should be, but won’t be, played at every shopping mall.

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“Function Creep” Miserylab (Carbon Neutral Digital)

Miserylab Porl King Carbon Neutral RecordingsMiserylab’s “Function Creep” is rhythmically precise, low key but emphatic and comes with a contemporary twist, “about the now” is an apt opening track. It’s eighties’ electronica, influenced by Joy Division, that looks forward instead of back. Porl King’s love of irony hasn’t gone away, “your idol is idle” (from “delusions”) or “self-esteem is a screen you have to use -/ so you can love yourself” (from “only human”).

“when you turn away” envisions a J G Ballard “Kingdom Come”-style nightmare of shopping malls and suburbs, where to be is to consume. “Function Creep” is a necessary soundtrack to a panorama of Edward Hopper-inspired crepuscular scenes, taking in the ‘what’s in it for me, am I famous yet?’ non culture. It deserves to spawn a bandwagon that inspires listeners to seek out the leader.

The ending “rise”, opening with “I sense the apathy in your silence/ I sense the contrivance in your kindness…”, is an outstanding anthem which fades into a chilling reverberation that lasts beyond the track.