The Irrepressibles give us what for with a trio of delicious records
Jamie McDermott and his chamber-pop orchestra lend fresh limbs to their wonderful Nude album in the form of these 3 deceptively different extended players.
The Irrepressibles – Nude EP's – OUT NOWThe Nude EP's from Jamie McDermott's endlessly inventive art-pop collective, have been billed as a companion piece to their 2012 album of the same name, which is a fair enough statement given that a fair percentage of the songs here are re-worked versions of songs from that superb record. Nude took the reference points from the debut Irrepressibles album ('Mirror Mirror') a step further, but dialled the histrionics down a few notches. There was nothing as strikingly gorgeous as 'In This Shirt' from Mirror Mirror (the song that brought the group to wider attention due to its extensive use in a BT advertising campaign), but the glorious closing 'Two Men In Love' certainly came close, and it's a shame that wonderful song is not given an airing here. What we do get however on the first of the three EP's (titled 'Landscapes') is a sparse reading of the single 'New World' that renders the song even more harrowing, and an orchestral reworking of 'Arrow' (the delicious opening number from Nude). There is also the epic 'Our World It Fell So Quietly', which kicks off the collection with typically bombastic aplomb. It's telling of these EP's though, that instead of simply filling in the space around his delicate, haunting voice with noise and melody, here McDermott has decided to leave a little more to the imagination. This is the thing that binds all three records together, even though they strive to hit completely different targets. Landscapes closes with an extended cover of the Elvis Presley standard 'Always On My Mind', and does so in the most understated way possible, until the climax, where the kitchen sink of orchestration is unleashed. 'Viscera', the second EP in the collection and the EP McDermott and his troupe are currently touring, is a completely different beast. Aptly more visceral that either of it's companion records, the material here recalls the dramatic, posthumous Jeff Buckley recordings, with the guitar taking centre stage on the harried 'Not Mine', and an electric, almost violent atmosphere during the opening and closing bars of the wonderful 'So', perhaps one of my favourite Irrepressibles numbers thus far. There's an almost 'nu-wave' vibe to these songs that means it stands apart from everything else in the Irrepressibles oeuvre, and does so without sounding like another band entirely. The real star here though is the reworking of Nude track 'Pale Sweet Healing', which is stripped back here to its bare essentials and is devastating as a result. The closing 'Changing Time' meanwhile, is a wonderfully odd little (almost) pop song, which caps off the strongest of the 3 records. 'Forbidden' is the final EP here and perhaps the strangest. The opening 'Forbidden' is a sparse echo of everything that's come before. Little more than stuttering electronics and a celestial vocal, it is the complete antitheses of everything else McDermott has ever laid to tape under the Irrepressibles banner, and it's a thing or desolate beauty. The bulk of the rest of the record is made up of remakes of Nude tracks that have been given a more artificial bent, but it's the new songs that reveal the most here. 'Edge Of Now' for example, sounds like an ancient Depeche Mode track free of cynicism and 'The State Of It All' is a dramatic statement of intent that almost strives to erase everything that came before it. It's a mess, but it knows it's a mess and is all the stronger for it. In all, the Nude EP's serve to further underline The Irrepressibles as one of our countries most underrated acts. Cynics could denounce it as little more than pop music in bloody feathers, but there is something beneath the bluster that deserves attention. I personally cannot wait for album number 3.