Thought For The Day
Thought For The Day
How To Write A Momus Review
(in three easy lessons)
Lesson Two: The Corker (or 'Hum Dinger')
Dave Documento, formerly Executive West Coast Editor of Classic and Vintage Rock magazine incorporating Guitar Monthly, reviews Stars Forever by Momus.
Moptember 1999 Issue
Momus reaches Old Master status with an album of pop portraits. Roll over Rembrandt!
Stars Forever (Analog Baroque, gatefold double CD)
What is it with you English? About once a decade a true genius of popular music appears in your midst, makes a few classic albums, gets passed over by the masses, is ignored or even attacked by the critics, and finally fades into obscurity, drowning his disappointment in alcohol and barbituates and leaving some wise biographer to document his tragic life.
But it doesn't need to be that way. Thanks to the somewhat more appreciative Americans and Japanese, Momus seems unlikely to go the way of Nick Drake, Kevin Coyne, and Huffin' Bill Langford. In fact Stars Forever, his masterpiece, is probably his happiest and most universal album yet. Whereas in the past he has tended to waste his extraordinary talents on crudely sexual scenarios and satire reminiscent of Sail Away period Randy Newman, these commissioned musical portraits (made to save independent US label Le Grand Magistery from bankruptcy following some legal trouble last year) see the electronic troubadour finally embracing universal themes: marriage, the family, life at the office, anal sex and chocolate.
Like his cousin Justin from Del Amitri, Currie has always had a knack for matching a poignant lyric to a great tune. And here, across almost two hours of music, he manages to stay sharp, amusing and vastly entertaining.
Against all the odds (and probably nobody else in rock could have pulled it off) he manages to make each portrait work as a story that can interest the rest of us even while it documents for posterity the features of people we'll never meet. 'Mika Akutsu' sports a melody worthy of prime Beach Boys, and 'Jeff Koons' is a fine example of the style Currie calls Analog Baroque, its tapestry of harpsichords recalling criminally underrated 70s prog rock band Beggar's Opera. Only with side two's 'Indiepop List' song, in which Momus commemorates forty subscribers to the internet discussion list, does the musical interest slacken just a tad.
Like the closing credit sequence of A Bug's Life, Stars Forever ends with a series of comical 'outtakes', in this case the winners of a competition to parody the songs on his last album, The Little Red Songbook. Where that record merged classical themes with the futuristic sounds of the Moog synthesiser, Currie's musical accent here is even more original; electronic interpretations of familiar themes from Scottish, English and Moorish folk music. Imagine Kraftwerk jamming with Steeleye Span to get something of the flavour. As ever his arrangements are miniature miracles, charming and inventive, tinkling like efficient little clockwork machines.
It may not be enough to persuade the cynical British to acknowledge him as the world's greatest living popular music artist, but Stars Forever is certainly going to get played a lot in my house.
Next: Momus as Advanced Semiotic Listening Music... Brian Grey in The Mire Magazine!
Read what the Mo' Musical Express thought here.
A brief word about these parody reviews. Firstly, I've been amazed at how many people thought they were real. RF from New York, for example, wrote to me in consolation:
'i just read the MME review and was suprised at the lack of even an
attempt at objectivity. Even if you were fat, ugly, obscure, what the
hell would that have to do with your record? I'm sick of critics who
won't make a distinction between the work and the person. Pisses me
off. Fortunately, if it's any consolation, nobody in America gives a crap
what Britain thinks about anything. Including me. So the MME can shove
their review up their ass. Come back to New York City for the credit
So, just to reiterate, these are not real reviews, although they might one day have identical twins in real publications with names like NME, Mojo and The Wire.
I was just trying to be like two of my heroes, the painter Kirchner, who actually wrote reviews of his own exhibitons under a pseudonym, and the Portugese poet Pessoa, who had 82 different writing identities, each one pastiching a different style of literature.
Also, I'd like to say that the NME review was very much intended as a critique of their normal character assasinations, riddled with hypocrisies and self-contradictions (their recent live review of my Electrophobia show was a prime example -- apparently the reviewer was recently sacked from Creation band 18 Wheeler, so he probably wasn't impressed by the lyric I sang in the song Robert Dye about '18 Wheeler, best band in the world'). But the Mojo parody on this page is much closer to what I hope people will think about the record, which I'm very proud of and excited by, and its parody of the style of Dave DiMartino, one of my staunchest supporters, someone who has probably fought long and hard even to get reviews of my stuff printed, is totally affectionate. I'm very grateful to Dave for his regular kindness to me, even if he does always compare me to people I've never heard of! (By the way, I just bought a Beggar's Opera LP in Berlin, so even that isn't entirely a joke!)
Think of these skits, not as Momus fouling his nest again ('Don't shit where you eat, Momus!') but as a proud parent innoculating his beloved new baby against measles, chickenpox, and critics!