We proudly premiered the video of ‘Down to the Ground’ last week by Glaswegian-based artist and musician Josh Thorpe, and the excitement caused by this single is only exceeded by listening to the entire album from whence it came – ‘Love & Weather’.
There is an imperious grandiosity about this album – studied and eloquent tales of life expounded by Thorpe over a buzzsaw blitz of unadulterated raw guitars and driving rhythms. It’s raw, it’s dirty, it’s filthy and so much fun.
Thorpe is not constrained by commercial radio sensibilities – there are poetic tales to be told and they are there to be told until the tale is finished – three songs clock in over seven minutes, two over five. And yet by the end of the album, you want more. Exposition requires time to foment, and Thorpe is the architect of perfectly formed vignettes of life.
Opening track ‘Rita & George’ – almost entirely spoken word – is eminently blessed with a wry and dry sense of humour and splattered with anarchic unbridled squalling guitars that are unleashed towards the end. Slightly off kilter and dissonant, the guitars are a deadpan base for Thorpe’s warped tales.
‘Manhattan’ has the same expository style throughout – Thorpe’s dry and observational style telling of tales of the streets and a chaotic attack of guitars and feedback – self-deprecatory humour that swaggers and struts around.
There is no doubt the rambling chaotic and anarchic sides of Velvet Underground will be a reference point – ‘Manhattan’ has that New York-in-the-seventies edge: a slight whiff of the subway and the hint of danger and illicit pleasure lurking in the tenement blocks of Hell’s Kitchen.
At its heart, however, it is a driving pop song with an insistent rhythm and vaulting chorus:
The dial is turned down ever so slightly for ‘Down in the Ground’ – a more paced and reflective track that still manages to swagger with attitude and style despite being naked, brittle and raw.
If ‘Down in the Ground’ was muzzled, then ‘Why Try’ takes a deep inhalation of something psychedelic and mind altering, occasionally tearing off the mask. At seven minutes long, it has a weary cynicism about politics and politicians with an arched eyebrow and a hint of a sneer as Thorpe dreams about escape from the trashy mundanity of everyday life.
Bitter weariness is tangible, anger ever present.
there’s nowhere to hide because the countryside is littered with broken bottles and trash tractors and the polar bears are coming south…
The weariness can blast into frustration expressed so perfectly in the unhinged guitars. Indeed, if there was a preservation society for guitars, they would be called immediately – strings are scrapped, picks dragged noisily across the serrated edge, pickups overloaded, notes bent beyond recognition. It’s very cathartic. Think of the immense joy you get from The Birthday Party (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, go and listen to some Birthday Party).
‘Honeysuckle Moon’ is the comedown after the rage. Reflective and stripped back – stretching over an immersive eight minutes and filled with spaces a universe wide.
And after all the rage and bitterness – laced with humour and poise – the brief ‘Mountains (Styles Régionaux)’ is that 3am drift away into a reverie after a heavy night – a warm, enveloping finale.
‘Love & Weather is an unbridled joy. It’s cathartic, confronting, comforting and emotional. It is the kind of album you would warily cross the street if you saw it coming in your direction in the early hours of the morning. It’s not pop, but it’s not not pop – it’s melodic throughout but telling stories that recount a seedy and precariously indifferent world at times, punctuated by guitars that need therapy, a strong cup of tea and a lie down.
Love & Weather is out on 5th February 2021 through Unusual Music Exchange. Thorpe’s band are Rory Haye (bass) and Owen Curtis Williams (drums) and the album was recorded and mixed at Dystopia by Luigi Pascini.