Album: Prefab Sprout, Let's Change the World with Music, (Kitchenware)
Hot dog, jumping frog! Prefab Sprout are reborn
Sunday 30 August 2009
Prefab Sprout's Paddy McAloon has been showing an uncommon awareness of the ticking clock and the Reaper's claw since as long ago as 1988's "The King of Rock 'n' Roll" ("All my lazy teenage boasts/ Are my high-precision ghosts/ And they're coming round the track to haunt me..."), so actually reaching middle age – he turned 52 this summer – ought to suit his bittersweet muse magnificently.
And it does. But here's the Sproutian twist: as much as McAloon may now resemble an Amish tramp auditioning for the lead part in the Robert Wyatt story, he still sounds like a young dreamer.
The lyrical and lush Let's Change the World with Music (the Sprout's first album for eight years and only their ninth in a career that began in Newcastle back in 1978) is, above all else, an idealistic record. It is, in no small part, a concept album engaged in the anthropomorphism of a whole art form, before which McAloon supplicates himself before it, a bowled-over suitor: "Music is a princess/ I'm just a boy in rags..."
Pop about pop has always been his (piano) forte – see "Faron Young", see "Cars and Girls" – and he's indulging that to an extreme here, from the opening "Let There Be Music" (on which an apocalyptic robot announcer gives way to Barry White symphonic disco) through the top-hats-and-canes swing of "I Love Music" (which rhymes "Niles and Bernard" with "avant-garde") and the self-explanatory "Sweet Gospel Music" to the wise and weary "Meet the New Mozart" ("He's in the bed where commerce sleeps with art...")
Along the way, McAloon debates the possibility of righteousness with or without religion to a Franco-disco beat ("Ride") and, on the sweeping and sumptuous "Last of the Great Romantics", issues the immortal command "Come on, Gatsby, stand aside..."
Still sounds like a young dreamer? That's probably because McAloon now suffers from impaired vision and diminished hearing and most of the songs here have been knocking around in demo form since 1992. All of which only makes Let's Change the World...all the more bittersweet.
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food