Power pop/indie rock collective The Speed Of Sound present ‘Last Orders’, hot on trail of revealing the single ‘Opium Eyes’ and ‘Tomorrow’s World’ from their Future-Retro-Modernist long-player ‘Museum of Tomorrow’. 32 years to the day when the band’s debut EP saw the light of day in 1989, they’ve released this album on CD and Deluxe LP via California-based Big Stir Records.
Hailing from Manchester, The Speed Of Sound’s music is optimistic, but with lyrical bite, a punk-inspired DIY ethos and lust for experimentation rooted in psychedelia. Formed in 1989 with a pre-history dating back to the day Andy Warhol died in 1987, The Speed of Sound lies deep below the ‘music industry radar’, allowing for the evolution of their own distinctive sound and live act.
The band, as it exists today, is made up of father and son John Armstrong (guitars and vocals) and Henry Armstrong (keyboards), Ann-Marie Crowley (vocals and guitar), Kevin Roache (bass guitar) and John Broadhurst (drums).
“At first, ‘Last Orders’ sounds like it’s a drinking song about getting a round in before the bar closes, but I was at the Stasi (the old East German secret police) Museum in Berlin and that got me thinking about the night the Berlin Wall came down and them furious shredding documents despite the State having collapsed and their job no longer having a purpose. That led me on to the Japanese soldiers in the mid-1970’s that were still unaware World War 2 had ended. The military has a concept of continuing with orders until new instructions are received. So Last Orders is about actual last orders. But then again, it could be a drinking song,” says John Armstrong.
“It is stripped-down and acoustic guitar-led, with additional backing vocals recorded individually around the world. Featuring a representative for every continent on the planet and is assembled in a virtual room (Abbey Road Studio 3) to create a universal reverb and a sense of togetherness. An intercontinental night out in a pandemic. Come on, it’s last orders.”
‘The Museum of Tomorrow’ is an exhilarating nonstop sensory indulgence. A low-altitude magic carpet ride at breakneck speed over the insanity of the early 21st century, drenched in Science-Fiction and retro-futurist infused imagery and themes. Despite some dark subject matter, the lyrics are playful and as bright as coloured vinyl. This is the Museum Of Tomorrow – not a mere time-capsule or bleak survey of dystopian protest themes, but an immersive experience. Drunk with richness it hurtles on, twisting its many turns with subtlety; exhibiting mood, style and pace variance. The trajectory is laid in and the thrusters fire.
While The Speed of Sound has released eight singles via Big Stir Records, ‘Museum of Tomorrow’ is an all-new experience, each song being single-worthy. Conceived as two seamless sides, the vinyl edition was mastered as two extended pieces – ‘Gallery One’ and ‘Gallery Two’. Korg synthesizer lines, reminiscent of classic Science Fiction incidental music, link the gapless songs.
This music has a definite 60’s influence but with an 80’s twist. With both female and male vocals, their sound is influenced by The Byrds, Small Faces, The Chords, Siouxsie & The Banshees and XTC. Merging the power of punk with floating harmonies, their sit tight between Sonic Youth and Dusty Springfield.
Released on September 17, the ‘Museum of Tomorrow’ LP is out now digitally, as well as on CD and limited-edition 170g heavyweight vinyl (on black and glorious colour). Vinyl features a 16-page full-colour A5 printed Exhibition Guide containing lyrics, a full-colour inner sleeve, a separate picture insert, a sticker, a pair of badges/buttons and a bookmark. Apart from platforms like Apple Music and Spotify, the LP can be ordered via Big Stir’s website or Bandcamp.