If this album were actually a museum, then the songs found within would be the various exhibits, lovingly created, curated and displayed by our heroes The Speed of Sound. This sonic collection takes as its theme the madness of the 21st century as it flashes past us at breakneck speed. There is a lovely juxtaposition of “the then and the now” going on here, both in sound and message. Songs such as the splendid opening salvo, Tomorrow’s World being a sonic blend of sixties musical innocence and jaunt, 80’s breeze and buoyancy and more modern, cool and clever indie moves. Similarly, the lyrics seem to be a mix of forward-looking 50’s sci-fi schtick and a more serious case of buyer’s remorse as we find ourselves in a modern world very different from the one that we were promised. (I, for one, am still waiting on my jet pack?)
And so the album goes, bubbling with dilithium crystal powered pop. Smokescreen is a cynical sing-along, Zombie Century soars and swaggers in equal measure and Leaf Blower is a sweet and delicate track with hidden depths, or perhaps not so hidden.
If others might approach such a subject matter in a bleaker way, all doom and gloom, shot through with dystopian, Blade Runner-esque warnings, it comes as a pleasant surprise to find an album shot through with warmth and humour, smart wordplay and often open to interpretation…is Last Orders about final rounds…or final solutions?
It is easy to pick up on the reference points, sonically XTC, The Buzzcocks, Soft Boys, Squeeze, lyrically a fantastic blend of Manic Street Preachers’ integrity and B52’s party spirit and shot through with threads pulled from 50’s pulp sci-fi, graphic novels, social discussion, satire and musing meaningfully on the nature of promise and progress.
It’s a blend of disparate creative threads but woven together into a cohesive and fantastic design as only The Speed of Sound is capable of.
Come for the groovesome music, stay for the debate about where humanity is headed!