Jack: A Momus Pause

Melody Maker, February 1997

Jack singer Anthony Reynolds has recorded an album with acclaimed singer/songwriter Momus. The project is to be released under the name Jacques, through the Setanta label. It may initially be available on The Divine Comedy tour, which features Jack as support throughout March.

Nick Currie, aka Momus, has been talking to The Maker about the album's conception.

'Anthony was playing in Paris so he came to see me and we talked about doing this record. There seem to be confused origins of the record. It was meant to have been an acoustic record for the support of the Divine Comedy tour, but it was also meant to be like a scrapbook of ideas and experiments. In fact it's neither of those. It's turned out to be a classic, wrist-slashing masterpiece in the vein of Lou Reed's 'Berlin' or perhaps Nick Drake, but with Momus-esque electronics around it. It's an extremely strong album, but I don't know what its fate is going to be. I think it's destined to be a cult classic, one of those records that people talk about, one of those great lost albums.'

According to Currie, 'I didn't know anything about Jack as a band, but you don't come across songwriters as good as Anthony very often.'

'The difference between us is that he's more romantic than I am. He's very much into the black romantic myth of being drunk all the time and being with women. I'm meant to be writing the sleevenotes for the album and was thinking of portraying him as this Richard Burton as Mark Antony kind of figure: Mark Antony in the big, widescreen, Hollywood epic.

'What's weird is that some of the arrangements are classic me but the themes are much more romantic than I've ever been except, perhaps, on 'The Poison Boyfriend' LP.

'The whole equation of Momus was to have very seductive arrangements with really horrible scenarios in the lyrics.

'With Anthony, it's seductive on both counts, which makes it a little less avant garde than my stuff, which is all about trying to make you think: it's all been Brechtian and deliberately repulses you so that you consider things in a slightly different way, which is just me being an old school teacher, really. Anthony basically just wants to seduce.'

Two weeks later, Melody Maker carried the following report on its news page:

I'm All Right Jacques!
Jack singer Anthony Reynolds has been telling MM about his new project and alter ego, Jacques.

As reported exclusively in The Maker last month, Reynolds has collaborated on an album with Nick Currie aka Momus. 'How To Make Love' was produced by Momus and written, predominantly, by Reynolds. Three tracks were written with Jack guitarist Matthew Scott. It's available at gigs on Jacques / Jack's current tour.

Anthony told The Maker about his fondness for Momus. 'I have, unconditionally, a great respect for him. I'm a fan. Now he's a fan of us. There's been some wonderful back slapping!'

I used to live with a girl who worked in Boots and I got her into Momus -- she still listens to him now -- and that feels like a victory. I don't mean to be condescending to people who work in Boots. She used to buy me his records because I had no money and we'd listen to them in the dark.'

I know Momus can come across as misogynistic and sexually perverse but he's really quite sweet. He reminds me of a lotus flower. He's charming and very youthful. He was telling me he only pushed that sexual thing for effect and that it's all he's ever been noticed for. A lot of people hate Momus. It's a bit sad that people can't separate him from his work. It shows a lack of imagination. The general public are terrifying: you only have to watch an episode of 'Vanessa' to realise that.'

Reynolds revealed why he was eager for the recordings to take place. 'Jack records are painstaking and painful to make but I had a backlog of songs. The whole point of me being in a group is collaboration. It makes my life richer.'

'We were like two kids playing. It didn't matter if it wasn't the best vocal I could do. I was trying to realise a different part of my personality. The songs are like pencil doodles or lover letters written on the back of beer mats.'

Reynolds says the release is the first part of an imagined trilogy that would, in a perfect world, be followed by collaborations with Scott Walker and David Sylvian.

Momus will be performing with Jacques at the Royal Festival Hall, London, in late March, supporting The Divine Comedy. Watch local press for details.