Sergeant Buzfuz – High Slang (Blang)
Opening with simple melodic lines, piano and accordion chords gently yielding to light funk, Sergeant Buzfuz‘s fourth album lets the listener know that he is what you might term a ‘craftsman’. God To Holloway is a lengthy opening statement, with precise accelerations and interacting violin lines providing plenty to engage with. Clearly, throughout the album, not a note or nuance his escaped scrutiny, not a word or wit has been examined too many times. This is most definitely a positive, but it is possible to scrutinise base material that, at its heart, isn’t all that strong and make no improvement.
Elements like the slightly silly monologue on Mothership Zelda clamours, failingly, for something more worthwhile to impart, something more than just lyrical quirks over effected spook in the bass. Worse is the extremely obvious and unfunny In The Back Of My Cab, in which the Sergeant does impressions of Jimmy Savile and rambles on about Jonathan Ross. Humorous music will forever be compared to torchbearers like Half Man Half Biscuit, and when High Slang dips into that territory it pales.
What is certain is that the lighter in touch and gesture the song, the improved clarity of its intent. The Smog-like Names For Girls is simple and pretty enough to charm (and makes excellent use of a ubiquitous dulcimer), and the quietly cataclysmic Kay Malone surely asserts itself as the strongest track here, thanks to its uncluttered and impassioned execution. Indeed, when the album is on form, it recalls the shuffle of Hefner and the exuberance of Dexys Midnight Runners, shining beacons if ever there were two. The pop culture references suggested by the album’s title work far better under restrained circumstances, providing hooks to hang onto and clear images to explore. It seems that the scrutiny exacted upon High Slang is not in question, more that the fundamental expressions, the almost unexaminable, are the areas in need of focus. Despite these inconsistencies, High Slang sees Sergeant Buzfuz continue on his way in unassuming and usually satisfying style.
Find out more aroun’ here. High Slang comes out on the hilariously-named Blang record label on February 2nd.