Would-Be-Goods – Eventyr (Matinee)
There’s a quiet reserve about Would-Be-Goods frontwoman and chief composer Jessica Griffin that’s always intrigued, and almost always threatened to spill over into a primordial mish-mash of emotional battery and instrumental madness. Isn’t that the threat we want realised with every band dealing in twee (not a dirty word)? Picture a sudden outburst where specs are flung across the sweaty floor into, where the support band’s distortion pedal is stolen and plugged the fuck in, where abandon is cherished over poise and beauty… but it’ll never happen, and that’s the everlasting appeal of the genre. That it might happen one day is enough to keep listeners listening, poring over every hushed word in the hope that one of them might be “COCK” or something, imagining the smoky evocations and interpersonal minutiae with detail to spare.
For all Griffin’s skill at this, it is guitarist Peter Momtchiloff who makes the most smouldering contribution, and Eventyr‘s first highlight. In Bohemia is a cheeky character portrait of slight menace and sexual advances. The wormy basslines (courtesy of returning bassist Andy Warren) and cheeky organ mask the murk of a none-too-shy French teacher and the ease with which one can become embroiled in unsavoury affairs. As Griffin cooes, “I was happy there, but it couldn’t last…”. It’s expertly executed stuff, and terribly entertaining.
This aside, the majority of Eventyr relies on similar feats of cheek masking murk, and the considerable charm of Griffin’s potential to give in and shriek. But that’s not going to happen, remember? Musically, the record does little (in fact, probably nothing) to advance the Would-Be-Goods’ cause. The occasional bossa beat or jazz ride cymbal will convince no new fans to join the fold, and while the band remain resolute in their determination to stay in second gear sonically this is not a situation open to change. The real meat and intrigue lies in the lyrics and hardly anywhere else.
For some artists, the popular song is a challenging framework, the limits of which must be explored and occasionally breached, and for others it is a vehicle of ultimate expression – a logical and functional way to make your poems sound nicer than your speaking voice. And if your poems sound like those of the Would-Be-Goods and your voice is that of Jessica Griffin, you could do quite a lot worse. So it never erupts. It never threatens to take of its coat and rough you up. No specs are broken, no drinks spilt. Eventyr just is, and that’s all it needs to be.
Eventyr is out now! Whee! More info at the Matinee records site here.