SCRITTI POLITTI White Bread Black Beer (Rough Trade)
White Bread Black Beer is my first long-term listen to Scritti Politti, and I think Im impressed. If it sounds like that statement has a flock of caveats fluttering above it, maybe its because this is a fairly disorientating record. On opener The Boom Boom Bap, for example, Green Gartsides soft, mannered vocals trip over the worlds politest hip hop soundtrack think a marshmallow-fluffy Dr. Dre. At times White Bread Black Beer can seem a soulless experience, almost untouched by any kind of human interaction, yet those same songs Throw, for example, or the jaunty but inscrutable After Six and Road To No Regret - sweep insidiously up on the listener.
Perhaps the album peaks on its two complex, multi-part epics. Steady on, were not talking Suppers Ready here, but Dr. Abernathy moves from Simon & Garfunkel-style acoustic guitars and harmonies to a glam stomp and back again, encrusting the whole with mysterious witticisms such as Dr. Abernathy called to see if you were here / He wanted heroin, I gave him beer. Mrs Hughes again takes in Simon & Garfunkel acousticity, also stopping off for avant garde Beach Boys acapella sections and more of that Dre-lite whistling synth hip hop, anchored by the wry parochialism of lyrics like Down the town centre where somebody died / By British Home Stores, just sitting outside.
These songs are a procession of Russian doll enigmas, revealing barely as much as they conceal. Nevertheless, this luxuriantly home-recorded album is the height of synth(etic) sophistication, somewhere on the saccharine side of Prefab Sprouts pop confections.