ONE-TIME Playboy bunny Marion Benoist and ex-Motherfucker feedback enthusiast Fred de Fred (aka the Lovers) have been making beautiful music together since they were introduced by a mutual friend in London on September 11, 2001.
Now based in Sheffield – they have no plans to invade Afghanistan, for the moment – the Lovers’ naughty but nice second album continues the saucy crusade they began with their eponymous debut three years ago. Recorded in Texas and South Yorkshire, Pardon My French contains the kind of big production pop nobody is supposed to make anymore. I think it could be my favourite album of the year.
An effortlessly exotic and eclectic sound – whistling, kazoos, ukuleles, a glockenspiel, a sousaphone, even a clarinet are all thrown into the mix – might make Pardon My French seem like it’s from another time and place but closer listening reveals some talented musicianship and a resolutely individual, contemporary and internationalist outlook.
If that wasn’t enough, they’re sexy and funny, they sing in French, English and a strange combination of the two, and they write killer hooks too. What more do you need to know?
Highlights of Pardon My French include the rather risqué Striptease 4 Beginners, a vaguely familiar Chikkaboom and the perfect pop of John (With The Magic Corkscrew) as well as a big live favourite, their delightful just-like-it-was-written-for-them cover of the Cure’s Lovecats.
Expect anything from breezy chanson and lopsided ska to ragtime jazz and pedal-steel country and western, together with just about the prettiest song the duo have ever written (Reverie De Lollita) and a typically dirty yet lovely Christmas song just in time for the festive season (Christmas Tree).
Ooh la la, indeed.
As well as certain mesmerising, tumultuous events on the other side of the Atlantic (Gobama! Live long and prosper!), some of my most favourite telly-visual moments over the last few weeks came from the glorious Dead Set. Running over five consecutive nights on Channel 4, Dead Set is the latest product of the twisted and amoral mind which created the Shoreditch Twat, TV Go Home and Nathan Barley – Guardian columnist and all-round too-clever-for-his-own-good goggle-eyed bastard, Charlie Brooker.
Set in the Big Brother house on an eviction night which is interrupted by the onset of a zombie apocalypse, Dead Set wasn’t really funny ha-ha but it successfully mined a rich seam of coal-black humour from the simple but neat idea of bloodthirsty brain-dead automata roaming around on either side of the camera – as well as yer actual zombies.
There’s a scene where the repulsive Endemol producer Patrick (played brilliantly by Andy Nyman) is quite literally disembowelling his contestants – “I don’t even know what bit this is!” he declares at one point, delighted – that should be required viewing as part of any orientation process for future housemates.
Great performances from Jaime Winstone and the ever-reliable Kevin Eldon, a terrific script and a good deal more gore and viscera than you normally find in TV Land meant Dead Set was that rare thing – television that worked on any number of different levels, which dared to be different, and which had something to say about the terminal mind-crap pumped out by the ‘reality’ TV shit-factory. And the very best thing about Dead Set was that it made its point by being 20 times more entertaining than all that crap put together.
It even went some way to rehabilitating the hammy Davina McCall as she gamely ran around the blood-spattered production office, barking. At last, a role she could get her teeth into. Then again, she’s always chewed the scenery so it’s about time she had a go at the cast.
Dead Set also led to an amusing pseudo-spat between Simon Pegg and Brooker about the relative merits of slow, moaning zombies and sprinting, howling zombies. I’ll be posting an old interview I did with Pegg and Nick Frost when Shaun Of The Dead was released in the next couple of weeks (it’s here). In the meantime, UK readers can watch the series on the 4OD catch-up service and even buy it on DVD. Readers in the US can’t, but you have a Vulcan in the White House, so why should you care? That would be illogical, right?
Talking of whom, this is what Rudimentary Peni had to say on the matter of a black president some 26 years ago:
“Peanut farmer B-movie actor awakening, coughs desires for powers, prime the ministers, watch them go off. You have to be hardy to rest on your laurels, you have to be hardy but I’m so intense.
“A bun in the oven I’d fry in the fridge, a newspaper crowd blind snowblind. Close one eye become their king. The walls between you and me. Are you a snake? I’ll use a ladder, I’ll use a ladder, I’ll use a ladder!
“Robotic cool can mingle with my humanoid fool. You have to be hardy to rest on your laurels! To stop all changes, make time redundant. Black, black, black, black president!”
Wise words indeed. For all your Peni needs – downloads of bootlegs and gigs, rare-as-rocking-horse-shit interview reprints, even some live video footage – head over to Piss In A Pod, the definitive online Peni resource. You know it makes a weird kind of sense.
See also: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost interview