Thursday, October 6, 2011
Review :: The Servants :: Youth Club Disco
The Servants :: Loggerheads
A photocopied clipping on the back cover of this Servants reissue advises that the best way to dig for the next big thing is to always show up for the opening act. It's at once pleasingly familiar and profoundly fresh for a nearly 30-year-old comment. A no-brainer, sure, but the fact that this has been a tradition for so long in an art form rather young justifies all the hardcore fandom and cult folklore. I'm somewhat skeptical of Captured Tracks on this release, having to ignore a growing sense that perhaps they were scraping the C-86 landscape (literally, the compilation's original tracklist) for something, anything, that their legion of fans hadn't heard. It's also noteworthy that the aforementioned clipping was in reference to a show that Felt headlined, whose (largely un-reissued) decade-long catalog dwarfs The Servants paisley-chain of mid-80s EPs.
That said, the brevity of the David Westlake-led Servants allowed for a concentrated and streamlined statement so cultish that even Stuart Murdoch couldn't track it down. The folks at Captured Tracks have realigned the band's sessions and singles previously released by Cherry Red (see: Monochrome Set, another Captured favorite) to flesh out their tastemaking hitlist. And I commend them. So much of what we've heard from the Brooklyn label over the past year and change has the unmistakeable echo of bands such as these. Present, melodic bass, trebly and for fuuuucks-sake jangly (how about tastefully pluck-strummed?) guitars, 4/4 time, and detached vocal delivery. It's reassuring to know that a growing label is looking out for what came before, allowing for rediscovery that translates fluently to where the fans already stand.
But really, this isn't a review of the state of boutique record labels. Youth Club Disco paints a pocket-masterpiece of 80s guitar-pop reflection, one that's more noir and cosmopolitan than some of their drifting and arch contemporaries. Witty but not condescending, spacious yet concise. And really just refreshing. Nowhere have I read comparisons to fellow Creation-mates The Loft, which is unseemly and baffling, but telling: they're not considered precious for nothing. Everyone wants a band to call their own, and the best of them fit the bill timelessly. This is the cult that Murdoch was referring to in 1996.