GRINGO RECORDS 15th Feb, 2019
Stalwarts of the Leeds music scene for as long as I can remember (over twenty years so far). Playing rooms above pubs, opening for loads of bands in bigger places; a band that is always there. And occasionally making an album. They’ve only made three and we’ve been waiting ten years for this one…… I could say this is their most accessible album but that would only be because we’re used to the sound and they finally get some radio play (thanks Mark Riley). People who like Parquet Courts or Thee Oh Sees will immediately know where Bilge Pump are coming from.
Opening on a very Jah Wobble-era PIL bass line, the scratchy yet intermittently explosive fuzz carries the lyrics forward. Lyrics are about all sorts of stuff, things you think about whilst getting on with something else. The state of the world, local decay, kids causing bother, time travel, guitar effects. You know; stuff. Dry, witty, wilfully sideways-on, they are what they are. GUHAC laconically asks “give us half a chance” and it’s a magic middle-ground between bouncy fun and resigned disgruntlement. There’s a rolling shambling gait to many of the tracks but it is tied to some tidy changes of tempo and attacks of colour and tone. There is no definitive formula to Bilge Pump but you can always expect something with sharp edges – dark or sideways lyrics, needling guitar solos, aggressively feathered guitar. The sound is definitively Post-Punk and the freedom of the whole is tied to the very jazz-inflected drums.
There’s no doubt that Bilge Pump have matured and individual parts are distinct, each tugging at the others and creating a definitively independent view of things and musical shape. Each member seems to be going along with the others but at a slight angle. Fall-ish or Beefheartian discords result, keeping the music alive and insistent. See the extended Gondwana Girl for the full twisted glory of this approach. As the second track is called Pangaea No More, there is some tectonic shifting going on underground here. Alternatively, try the long and jammed-out The Passion Of The Kid, set around a repetitive groove and reaching claustrophobic places. Politicians, public buildings and whores all get respectable if they last long enough. Add to that post-punk bands that sail the same relentless course they set out on. Settle in and enjoy Bilge Pump doing what Bilge Pump do.