Tuesday, September 11

Review: Twisted Charm's 'Real Fictional' LP

It's not a coincidence that I've only collected my thoughts about Twisted Charm's Real Fictional after owning it for over a month. It is, true to the form they set up with their early singles, a very weird album. The squirming ball of flesh, guitars, tentacles, and faces on the cover is just a taster of the sheer oddity on the actual record: strange instrumentation, eerie production, and fractured lyrics and vocals are Real Fictional's hallmarks, and they don't let up throughout the whole twelve songs.

This can make it very difficult to listen to the album. The strange pitch-shifting of Nathan Doom's vocals - they sound like they've been cut to pieces by the savage saxophone chops of Luke Georgiou and crudely glued back together - and the almost-but-not-quite rhymes can be either incredibly frustrating or utterly perfect, depending on your mood. On occasions they work very well, like on the single 'Boring Lifestyles' or closer 'Your Jealousy'. Other songs have slightly more dubious lyrical content ('world cinema will not change the world/but Kieslowski has morals to tell', for instance) but instrumental touches of genius, such as the synths in 'Cinema'.

In fact, the best lyrical content is in the tracks where Twisted Charm turn a scathing eye on society, criticising 'the hypocrites without a point of view' on 'Phoney People', couch potatoes on 'Television Nation', and 99% of London's population, seemingly, on 'London Scene?'. These and 'Boring Lifestyles' have one target, and one target only: anyone who doesn't think. While I support that criticism, it does make the band come across as more-intellectual-than-thou on more than one occasion, especially the jarring namedrop of John Keats in 'London Scene?'.

That said, if you want an album that does social commentary like a more intelligent Arctic Monkeys and instrumentals like a paranoid New Wave band from 1983, Real Fictional will be right up your street. And whilst some songs are a bit take-it-or-leave-it, and you might not play the album right through more than once, the best tracks make it well worth buying.

1 comment:

Ana Frightens said...

I didn't know that Arctic Monkeys did "social commentary" beyond popping into the shop for chips and hanging out in hot tubs or something.

I've listened to Twisted Charm for a few years now and I've always been impressed by their lyrics and stuck-like-a-pig racket. Perhaps they do come off as trying to be "more-intellectual-than-thou" to some people but I always thought of it more as Nathan having his tongue permanently implanted in his cheek.