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HiFi Classics Angus Knight , November 19th, 2015 21:31

I'm not the first to say this, but there's something in the air in Brixton right now. The backlash had to happen at some point. As the mainstream of indie rock continues to bloat and stagnate just as Pete Doherty and his clan of 30 somethings have attempted to stage a floundered attempt to regain some sort of stamp of relevance, more and more disenfranchised youth such as myself look for more meaning and experimentation in new music. And thank god the Fat White Family came along to grab headlines and start a truly fascinating journey of life affirming gigs and lyrics that could make a Daily Mail comments section go into cardiac arrest.

With that in mind, when the Fat Whites recently declared Meatraffle as "the greatest band in the country right now bar none" on their Facebook page, one can only hope that their substantial army of young fans will listen in and agree with them. Meatraffle have been kicking around clubs and pubs within the scene based around Trashmouth Records in South London for a while now, and have developed one of the most original sounds in a scene of very engaging and disparate bands. From the anthemic pub rock of Pit Ponies to the psych-punk lunacy of Warmduscher, this is a collective of individuals who refuse to be pigeonholed. And, locally, Meatraffle are perhaps the most treasured band of the lot of them, practically becoming the house band at the equally marvellous Windmill pub on Brixton hill.

This debut album then, is an amalgamation of several influences. Post punk, reggae, jazz, hip-hop and psychedelia that evolves into something that sounds totally fresh and forward thinking. Take the bleak opener 'Oppenheimer', which sounds like King Tubby remixed 'Winter' by The Fall. It manages to sound as if it were a basement demo and as though it was a sound check in an arena. Rough, but expansive and menacing. The track 'Aurora' promotes the most use of dub sound effects on the album and a strong, powerful groove that smacks of early Wu-Tang and demands attention. Lyrics wise, the album is just as sporadic. Ranging from the absurdist 'Greenfly & The Rose' to the chanting on 'Oppenheimer'. Meatraffle are an overtly political band and this is displayed in the album artwork and the lyrics to tracks like 'The Wickerman', which puts forward a fantastical vision of bankers being burned Edward Woodward style as the rest of us sing and dance as contently as Christopher Lee and Britt Eckland.

The albums ultimate collision of musical influences and lyrical flights of fantasy occurs on centerpiece track 'Madame Hi Fi'. With the now familiar dub bass line and drum machine. It's later complimented by a spacious, jazzy groove from the live drums. Lyrically, it's a love song of sorts. An ode to a woman obsessed with every detail of the protagonists hi-fi setup. It manages to be cool and humourous, as well as showing us we're dealing with music nerds. It's nice to feel representation every now and again. This song, as well as the album as a whole, is a fascinating journey that gives the listener enough to latch onto for it to be enjoyable on the first listen and conceals enough for the ensuing return listens to be just as rewarding. As closing track 'Nice Young Couple' twists and turns towards it's climax, complete with the trumpets that appear throughout the album that are utilised as both a reggae melody carrier and a freeform jazz weapon of mass destruction and 'Gibbytronix' style vocal effects, the sounds are disconcerting, but strangely serene in their chaos. Powerful, but never aggressive. Messy, but never shambolic. If ever you have the unfortunate burden of talking to an individual who says that there's nothing original being said in contemporary punk music, then HiFi Classics wouldn't be a bad place to start to begin tearing their argument to shreds.