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Temescal Telegraph – The Corner Laughers (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

I get so used to listening to British bands enamoured by the glamour of American music, of ex-punks donning plaid shirts in search of a British Americana sound, whatever that might be, of pop pixies adopting the music and mannerisms of past stateside soul divas, of blues players digging for sonic pearls in the mud of the Thames Delta, that it come as a refreshing change to hear such homage being paid in the opposite direction.

The Corner Laughers are clearly fans of England, and it is specifically England rather than Britain that you hear in their music, music infused with a sort primal Cider Dream Time folk vibe and a perky pastoral pop poise. But it also resonates with the sun-drenched climes and general upbeat optimism of their west coast base too and the result is that they create a magical otherworld, one that manages to, on occasion, blend and blur with our own, and if few can see it, fewer can describe it accurately. Words are generally not enough but music gets you closer to understanding it and Temescal Telegraph is your road map to this merging of modernity and mythology, environment and euphoria, what ifs and why nots.

If you don’t fall in love with The Lilac Line before it fades out on the first play then you have no heart, it is as simple as that. It grooves with a joyous beat and pulses with the sort of optimism which is usually driven from people by about your eighth birthday, it is both idyllic and innocent and yet poignant in its many charms. Sisters of The Pollen twists dexterous bass lines into wonderful melodies, hippy harmonies into cheeky, chirpy eco-pop anthems and is destined to draw a smile, if not a few shuffled boogie moves from even the most Bee-lligerent bore.

It comes as little surprise to find the pen of Martin Newell instrumental in the lush and luxurious Goodguy Sun, and if he is there in person, so many of his ilk are on this album in spirit too, in the form of inspiration and infusion. The Byrdsian shimmer channelled by way of XTC’s parochial charm and the Kinks quintessential Englishness, Kirsty MacColl’s pop-pep and no small dollop of 70’s folk revivalists especially on songs such as the majestic Skylarks of England which works its way from gently lilting Fairport fayre to a more bombastic Tull-ish roots rock crescendo.

Let me draw a line connecting the cool chalk hills of Southern England with the sunnier climes of California, another between pagan mythologies and the real world concerns of the modern age, and then many more connecting places and thoughts, music and stories that have no business being connected. Stare at the pattern of the lines for a long time, and then shut your eyes. The stars dancing behind your eyelids is the music to be found on this astonishing album.

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