I always look forward to the little packages of CD’s that I am sent from Jezus Factory Records, they tend to be amongst the most challenging things I get to write about. Their admirable mission seems to be to bring Belgium experimental bands to wider exposure; lets face it, dEUS aside how many can you name? The current challenge before me is to discuss the relative musical merits of the wonderfully named Benny Zen and The Syphilis Madmen and even on first listen I realise that it is going to be a pleasant task.
Run Back To the Safety of the Town, is the second album from Peter Houben and his skewed folk-pop collective and it is filled with slightly left of centre, snappy and memorable tunes, short of length and long of title. It manages to pull together many diverse elements; the tongue in check accessibility of They Might Be Giants, the free thinking approach of David Byrne, glorious slices of 60’s pop and an often deadpan folk vocal style, but even that gives you only a vague starting point.
To balance the beautiful, simple lines and gorgeously retro Maybe The Time Has Come To Speak Louder songs like Isabel wander into a strange upbeat, kraut-pop territory, and the tumbling claustrophobic acoustic guitar thrusts of Lift Your Load are neatly balanced by the slow burning build of Become a Free Thinker Today. And as odd as these songs sound when I try and fall short of capturing adequately their essence in words, they manage to retain a wonderful easy, pop sensibility that will have you humming along by the second chorus and then pop back into your head in unguarded moments hours later. It is the mixture of slight madness…well eccentricity at the very least and accessibility that makes Run Back to The Safety of the Town a sure fire winner. They maybe not quite as boundary pushing as some of the other bands that they are associated with but they are far happier to go for memorable tunes over cult status. They may not be breaking down barriers but they have certainly left a few nasty dents in them.
Still, enough of my Belgian waffle, do yourself a favour and check them out today.