Released: 16 July 2007
Written by: Music: E Grassby, Walker, Cardwell, B Grassby; Lyrics: E Grassby
No matter. With their fluid, yet economical guitar lines Rhombus remind me of New Model Army. It could be said that horror and comedy aren’t as inimical as might first be thought, both represent a life out of control. That explains why Rhombus resort to both in their frustration about the attitudes of Small Town England. Words are important. Rhombus set out their manifesto with the opening lines of “Shove It Up Sideways”: ‘If I ever met the average man, of average height and average weight, I’d want to kick him in his average nuts.’ Here is a band of outsiders – through choice or circumstances I can’t tell you – who don’t want to be the same as everyone else. I’ve always found that impulse to be the same as your neighbour particularly mystifying, I guess I’ve never believed in safety in numbers – but I have to remind myself I am in a minority on this one. There’s something tentative about singer Edward Grassby’s vocals, which is at odds with the confidence of the words.
Regardless of the pleasures alcohol can bring, it can’t be denied that it also causes problems. “You Only Want Me When You’re Drunk” is skittish. And like a newly-born foal it hasn’t quite got to grips with the things it need to achieve all the wonderful things it will do in its life. This song features Mya’s vocals, which go a bit Bonnie Tyler shriek by the end, but in the meantime have a mellifluous Candia from Inkkubus Sukkubus feel. Some of her lyrics sound as if they were created during a brainstorming session at Threshers Off Licence. Maybe the band had been drinking when they came up with lines like: ‘I’m only randy on Glenmorangie’ and ‘There’s no chance of a shag without a large Laphroaig’. (Inadvertently Rhombus may have invented a parlour game of creating such couplets for all the family. A couple that come readily to mind are ‘I’ll have you under the piano, after some Cinzano’, ‘I swing both ways, when I’ve had some Baileys’. Hmmm, maybe it isn’t as easy as it sounds.)
Edward’s lyrics also lack finesse: ‘You treat me like a bloody skunk.’ Having said all this the song is such an enthusiastic stomp it doesn’t matter about lack of lyrical finesse. The song is memorable, exciting, and destined to stay in your head for the rest of the week. Just be careful singing it when you’re on the bus.
“Love You ‘Till Closing Time” carries on the story thematically. This time it is Edward who is offering love for all the wrong reasons. Ironically though he’s going to hug you ’cause I’ve run out of wine.’ With its Children on Stun-style manic guitar this is upbeat gothic rock that worms its way into your head, before making a swift departure. Maybe the bar man has rung his bell? “Seek But Never Do Find” deals with the problems of an ‘instinctive reaction to a passionate distraction’. Mya’s wailing vocals are elegant and emotive, an enticing icing on an already attractive cake. This song and the next “Where Shadows Seem To Smile” see the band slip from humour to horror, which as previously discussed are not such uneasy bedfellows. “Where Shadows Seem To Smile” has a hint of Die Laughing. While not as catchy as other songs it still packs an emotional punch.
The subject of coprophilia might be considered beyond the pale for many bands, but no, Rhombus march right in. While not wishing to judge others’ peccadilloes, it would be hard to disagree with the band’s surmise that it’s ‘An excretory passion not shared by the lay.’ Despite the earthy subject the music soars. While it might be argued that commercially a song about vampires or zombies might make more sense, one has to applaud Rhombus’ singular vision. The clean living of “New Temperance” seems more attractive in the light of what has gone before. The desire to escape is universal: ‘Nothing left for me in this old town.’ While straight-edgers might disagree temperance is not fashionable in rock’n’roll, clean living sounds attractive after the emotional trauma felt elsewhere.
“One Thing I Know” is pretty, but forgettable, and completely overshadowed by the thunderous “If You Haven’t Been Shot (You Should Be)” which features a Middle Eastern-tinged wall of guitar. Once again Rhombus rage at the things that are wrong with modern society. This never feels like whinging though – you get the idea that Rhombus really believes there is a better way to live than what we see around us everyday. This song is full of righteous anger, which once again conjures up the spectre of New Model Army. “Remembrance Day” is solemn, suiting its subject matter. You can’t deny Rhombus’ prerogative to rail against, ‘Bean counters, bureaucrats/Money-men and fat cats’. Can there be any greater crime than that of war? Despite all the good intentions, sometimes tackling such subjects leaves lyricists stumbling, but Rhombus never put a foot wrong.
Listening to music is a subjective experience, humour even more so. It’s a brave band that strides across both fields of subjectivity. What happens if you like Rhombus’ music, but not their humour? Or maybe you like the jokes, but not the beats? In my case both appeal. Rhombus are not a band build on a gimmick, when they play it straight they are just as effective as when they try to make us laugh. They are true eccentrics, something to be cherished in this increasingly homogenous world.