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Mozart Estate
Pop-Up! Ker-Ching! And The Possibilities Of Modern Shopping Aug Stone , January 23rd, 2023 09:49

Lawrence returns with an encyclopaedic tour through 70s pop styles (complete with dance moves)

Kudos to Lawrence for making a record that manages to take in almost every musical style ever to grace the charts in the 1970s, with a healthy amount of faux slap bass to boot. In case there’s any confusion, Mozart Estate is simply the updated name of Go-Kart Mozart, and if you were a fan of the latter, you’ll find much to appreciate here.

Opener ‘I’m Gonna Wiggle’ comes on strong, as if the ghost of disco-era Marc Bolan joined pre-Britpop Pulp, gyrating through various London locales and complete with perfect Joey Ramone ‘oh yeah’s. First single ‘Relative Poverty’ begins as an overwrought piano ballad before bursting into a full-on jubilant showtune.

Throughout musical history there have been numerous examples of songs with depressing lyrics being backed by an incongruous celebratory feel, but the discrepancy here takes this trope to the extreme. Like a good portion of the record, it’s too daft to be hard-hitting satire, but my god it is catchy. Couldn’t this be said of a lot of pop music? Yes, making this a sort of meta-mockery.

Up next, ‘Lookin’ Thru Glass’ is almost Monty Python-esque musical cabaret. Lyrically, it’s a 180-degree flip from the previous tune as the singer has “a pocketful of cash”. The capitalist commentary is more compelling here as “there’s nothing on the shelves worth buying”. The perspective flips again in ‘Poundland’, pulling back on the lyrical punch, but the breezy strain of the music continues.

Moving away from the money theme, ‘Pretty Boy’ also switches to a minor key for a nice break. Conjuring up Giorgio Moroder here, the driving drums bring us back to the territory of the opening track. ‘Vanilla Gorilla’ is a fine pop song, arguably the most infectious of the bunch, up there with Lawrence’s catchiest choruses. ‘Now The Darkest Times Are Here’’s sweeping synths and bubbling blips are very busy, but within all that, both its main instrumental melody line and the chorus are calculated to uplift. Once again at odds with its title.

Two lovely piano numbers come in the final third of the record. ‘When The Harridans Came To Call’ adheres to the record’s overall conceit but its melody and chord changes deliver an emotional impact absent from the earlier tunes. Not that that was their intention. ‘Honey’ is a moving, straightforward piano ballad that stands apart from the rest, its verse stronger than its chorus.

Fittingly, the album also includes a novelty dance with the time-honoured tradition of having its instructions in the lyrics of ‘Doin’ The Brick Wall Crawl’. If you were to follow them, you’d have to pace the violent moves as the upbeat piano shifts down the tempo while the chorus draws itself out. Worth noting is the hilarious line “the things I need to express are all against the law”. Closer ‘Before And After The Barcode’ sums up everything Lawrence has been saying on the record. A straight-up rocker with the bah-bah-bah backing hook echoing the title. While fans should be sure to love this return to classic Go-Kart Mozart form, it’s the musical scope of the record as a whole – the expanding of the estate – that makes it what it is.