Not that I am trying to second guess this fabulous band but before the virtual needle hits the digital record, I made a mental list of what I thought that this new album from The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show would include. I suspect that it would be full of infectious blends of frantic folk and riotous roots music built of sweeping violins and buoyant banjos amongst other things. I predicted that the songs would be infectious, filled with humour, sing-along-ability (that’s a word right?) and fun. That the playing would be dexterous and to the point, with no spare musical baggage weighing things down. Okay, so with my expectations established, I jumped in.
What I found was that even with this long list of points to be ticked off, the album still surprised me. It not only covered everything I had predicted but much more besides. If songs such as the recent single Boomtown seem to be the perfect showcase of how all the able elements come together, many others found here still manage to find new takes on their raggle-taggle, country-punk, folk sound.
Blindfold, for example, is a subdued and claustrophobic offering, a fairly flat sonic line punctuated by burbling bass runs and punchy, staccato beats, but for the most part, building tension by its unwavering and relentless march. We’re All Born In The Grave, by contrast, runs on a wonderfully dynamic yet gentle ebb and flow, rising up to meet the chorus before returning to its almost conversational vocal verses.
The Same Old Lines is wistful and reflective, Life’s Quite Bland is, ironically, anything bud, being a folk boogie par excellence, The Revolution Will be Sanitised is a clever take on the relative conformity of the modern world and the part that social media plays in keeping us all in our place and the album ends on 16 Moments, a Pogues-esque rattling riot of a song.
Past releases have reinforced the idea that whatever The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show touches turns to sonic gold. Clattering, raw-edged, homespun gold but gold nonetheless. And this is no exception, it’s an album that sounds like a “best of” collection or a singles compilation such is the consistency and quality of the music found here.
Isn’t it time for a new folk-punk cross-over band to emerge? Surely the world needs a new Levellers, a new Pogues, a new Tansads? Going Nowhere Fast is a reminder that there is a band poised, waiting for the fickle finger of fate to point in their direction so that they can have their shot at the big time. Let’s hope that day comes soon, they’ve more than earned it.