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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Simple passions

Dave McCullough's review of Nobody's Perfect from 12th July 1980 issue of Sounds. Don't you dare pass it over...

Simple passions

THE DISTRACTIONS
Nobody's Perfect (Island ILPS 9604A) *****

OH GOD, I must be getting old. I approached this with such scepticism! The trouble with The Distractions is that myself, and I know many others, expected this to be a classic debut album since so long ago that, now, when it's finally ready, almost a year since they signed to Island, the only approach seemed like a doomy foreboding.
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After all, the inconspicuous ebb and flow of The Distractions since that Island ensnarlment, broken only by the anonymous and unpublicised 45 reworking of Doesn't Bother Me (a waste of time), coupled with the fact that as a fragilely gifted pop entity The Distractions are singularly vulnerable company horse-meat(sic), all served only to dampen and dismay the enthusiasm of the growing number who are recognising this band as a truly great white pure pop hope. Have Island crushed or jaded the supremely talented flower that sprung forth the You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That and Time Goes By So Slow minor classics? Another industry pop swindle? Another Undertones?
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No way. The Distractions' is a superb debut album, almost fully realising those early promises. Its success comes almost entirely from the fact that in the long time they've kicked up dirt with Island and producers/Sweet celebrities Phil Chapman and John Astley, they've shifted the music enough to allow it subtle development and a new assurance. I may have expected the r'n'b, punk base to have still been there, leaving the songs that have been hanging in limbo for so long, indifferent and worn out, but I was wrong. The sound on Still It Doesn't Ring and (Stuckina) Fantasy has changed, is more sophisticated, is more thoroughly and assuredly pop based now, there's no longer any hint of toying with pure pop, The Distractions have taken it by the throat.
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It's most evident in the new songs (which is most of the album), where the band's sense of economy and their ability to evoke passion simply and nimbly, renders a good handful of songs as good and as powerful as anything on the first Undertones or second Buzzcocks albums. The line between writing pop with character and pap with a greedy glint is a fine one, but almost throughout this record The Distractions have it mastered. Still.
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I want to hear this on my radio. I want to play this all summer long. I want you to appreciate that this is THE five star review in any music paper this week. Don't DARE miss it! Don't you dare pass it over.

DAVE McCULLOUGH

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