, November 8th, 2010 08:45
Having strip-mined the boot sales, church fairs and charity shops of their West Yorkshire homeland for everything quirky, jerky, bleep and cheap, Cleckhuddersfax have decamped south to wreak further economic havoc on the capital's black vinyl market.
Spen Beck follows on from Cleckhuddersfax's self-titled debut for Leeds' DIY Chinchilla-Tone Records, and sees the group pack in a tight half-hour of galloping, synth-led glampop. The group's existence as "charity shop drop outs" feeds into each of Spen Beck's eight succinct tracks, as an alternative electro history taking in 70s bubblegum novelty ('Son Of My Father', 'Popcorn', 'Magic Fly') and 80s school fun (themes from Bob Godfrey animations, cassette-powered computer gaming) unfolds.
It's these myriad wayward analogue lead-lines that lift Cleckhuddersfax out of the underground and across the borders to popworld. Take them away and you're left with a solid dance-punka rhythm section and a strangulated Julian Cope on vocals (notably 'The Numismatist's aping of Zoo-period Teardrop Explodes), which is all well and good but not half so much fun.
The relatively lengthy Chicory Tip homage 'Untitles' is Spen Beck's Moog-y highlight, while the Morse code breaks on 'New Durzi' and the cosmic coda of 'A Decree' pull the album in new directions just when staleness threatens to settle in.
The group's magpie interest in tarnished pop gold breaks through at unexpected moments: album opener 'Four Principles Of Public Speaking' borrows its groove from Chubby Checker (or, indeed, Jive Bunny), while the arch-disco of 'North Tripoli'is, for better or worse, pretty much latterday Franz Ferdinand.
If Cleckhuddersfax were a couple of degrees wackier, Spen Beck could have turned into an irritating retread of a revival already cold in the grave, like some bastard son of Denim, but the group's ingrained perversity sustains interest. Crap name though