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Crescent – Resin Pockets

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Crescent - Resin PocketsIt seems that quite often in my reviews I am cheering the welcome return of bands that appear to have gone missing in action and enthusing about those returns, but I am particularly thrilled to be listening to the first Crescent album in ten years. Mic and I always felt like a tiny part of that dysfunctional extended Bristol family of the bands that revolve around the Movietone /Crescent axis; people like Balky Mule and Manyfingers that played in and around The Cube and made us all feel so welcome. The last time we saw Crescent, I am sure that Kate Wright was pregnant and perhaps that goes some way to explaining the long delay.

I am please to report that the intervening years have clearly been kind to Matt Jones, because what we have here are nine more tracks of his melancholic, pastoral street poetry. They are as ever paeans and love letters to the life he lives and still clearly loves, based in and around Bristol. I have to say, if anything, Resin Pockets is a more uplifting album than previous ones, and there is such an immediacy to the images that he constructs that you are almost there with him, whether it is finding a ladder in the river’s mud, dragging abandoned furniture back through early morning streets or laying under trees in beds of dried grass and linden seeds. They are like musical 8mm cine films, Matt’s wayward and at times hesitant voice evoking blurred and fuzzy images as the band back him up in their inimitable toybox genius style.

Having just laid in bed for forty minutes and allowed the album to wash over me again, I am truly taken by the charming prose that flows forth, and for me Resin Pockets has the most fluent imagery of any of the preceding Crescent albums. It is poetry as I really enjoy it; an attempt to describe a journey or a series of ideas or thoughts in everyday language. There is no need for rhyming and all that, just let the words come through and then place the structure of the song around it.

Most of the songs are based around Matt’s acoustic guitar strumming and in a few, the sound echoes that magical yearning purity of guitar noise that the Velvets managed on the third album. There is an uplifting vibrancy to it which the other collaborators use as an outline to colour in with all manner of instrumentation. Opener “Get Yourself Tidy” has a brief trumpet (I think), just to add some texture to things, and on “I’m Not Awake”, the drums sound like coconut shells from a primary school music room. This song sounds as though it was written on piano, but a piano that has half a sofa stuffed inside and probably hasn’t seen a visit from the tuner in years. It is this willingness to make music from whatever is at hand that gives Crescent songs that kind of charm that other bands would love to have, but will never achieve.

Some of the tracks have been recorded outside and the sound of their surroundings, be it passers by, the sound of birds or the roar of traffic leaking in just adds to the immediacy and the sense that somehow the band are outside your living room window, playing just for you. They work beautifully on “Charlstone” which has Hammond following the gentle acoustic guitar line, the found sounds adding texture as the song swells and drifts like a heart filled with love: “Stay with me underneath the trees, because there is too much leaving”.

It is a heart-stopping moment on an album filled with beautiful observation. There is a lot of love on this record, and for me that is a welcome thing. We learn that Matt stole the chords to “Willow Pattern” from his brother, but changed the words and has turned it into an almost upbeat lilting tribute, the gentle swell of horns bringing a sigh of satisfaction.

The album drifts out with the melodicas and gentle voices on “Roman Roads”; the return is complete and I for one am overjoyed with the magic hidden in the songs. On “Impressions”, Matt tells us that “All the people I love are broken somehow”, but judging by the strength of this album, broken is a relative term and if this collection of songs and the gentle souls that produced it equate to being broken, then I am not sure that being fixed is such a great thing.

If I remember rightly, it was on a Flying Saucer Attack album that was written the legend “Home taping is re-inventing music” and with that in mind, Crescent have just taken the bar and lifted it that little bit higher. Resin Pockets is just an absolute delight.

-Mr Olivetti-

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