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Welcome to the official Distractions website. We will be aiming to record the history of one of the greatest, but least heralded, of all Manchester beat groups.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Heartbeats and bruises: love or contusion

To complement the 1987 Rewind article, here's the original review of Nobody's Perfect from NME's 3rd July 1980 issue by none other than Paul Morley.
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Heartbeats and bruises: love or contusion
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THE DISTRACTIONS
Nobody's Perfect (Island)
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THE BEST music this year has been about and for love: love as stimulus/symbol/metaphor of these - The Correct Use Of Soap, Seventeen Seconds, Closer - the songs on Nobody's Perfect are the most familiar, but they are still inextricably bound up with the reasoning that love is not a comfort but a major catastrophe.
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Manchester's The Distractions, part of an Island 'team' that looks increasingly exciting, illustrate that the superficially conventional need for love need not be banal. Within unashamedly conformist structures, The Distractions' intimate and illuminating use of language defers anxiously to a stupid, cruel world, whilst their beautiful crafted music succeeds by confirming cliches with intense spirit (Paracetamol Paralysis), twisting them with unexpected depth (Something For The Weekend) and transcending them with nimble invention (Waiting For Lorraine).
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The Distractions are unaffectedly original, eclectic but not secondhand. They do not disguise their accents, and sing of what is, what hurts and what is wrong with acute insight. Nobody's perfect, nobody's typical, nobody's flawless, nobody's right... this LP tells no lies. That's really tough.
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The group use the basic plots and affairs (a lot of hanging around for phone calls, drifting into comatose states in discos, missing out on parties...) pop-lying-loving-infatuation and elevate them into the metaphysical. There are layers within layers in their songs: to approach them lazily is to miss out on contrast, contradiction, deception, mystery.
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Such completeness and compelling virtuosity are rare in the pop song. We have to look towards Motown, Otis Redding, early Beatles, to experience similarly concentrated moods of sadness, retrospection and introspection.
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The Distractions are most often compared to The Undertones and Buzzcocks because of their virtual implausibility and the similarity of musical, lyrical, melodic and dynamic concerns. The Distractions, though, are a much more demanding listening experience. They have a penetrating sureness that those other romantic wonder boys can never quite match.
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Throughout 14 songs a wounding pace and passion are maintained; a disorientating mix of seriousness and playfulness. Steve Perrin and Adrian Wright's sensational guitar partnership is constant drama itself (Untitled), wound so tight that you can't see a join. Either one is prepared at anytime to spiral off into breathless cosmic space (Nothing).
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Beautifully introduced harmonies melt all over (Boys Cry), moving to tears (Leave You To Dream) or savaging the song (Paracetamol Paralysis). The John Astley-Phil Chapman production is better than I dreaded; uplifting, urgent, ever so slightly displacing the songs.
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Mike Finney probably never took his hands out of his pockets in the studio, but his sly, northern soul vocals convey all the irony, anxiety (Wonder Girl), exhaustion, dark bitterness (Waiting For Lorraine), compromise, heroism (Untitled), tension and more that the songs contain.
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Heart beats up sadness. Heart beats up joy. This is heart beat music that bruises the soul.
Paul Morley

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