1/12/2010. Contributed by Neale Monks
Now That's What I Call Steampunk! Volume 1 by The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing. pub: Wax Cylinder/Dropout Studios APRONOO1. 10 tracks. Price: GBP 6.99 (UK).
The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing are a four-man group that combine elements of punk, rock and metal with a pseudo-Victorian sensibility and, frankly, a sense of fun. As musicians they have a certain raw quality reminiscent of the best pub bands, but at the same time their lyrics are clever and often witty, dipping into all sorts of aspects of Victoriana, from notable engineers to the East End slums. To this reviewer, at least they combine something of the role-playing fun of the Tiger Lilies together with the wit and punkiness of Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine.
The opening track, 'Etiquette', starts with a few moments of steam engine sounds before launching into fairly fast-paced punky little song about how manners maketh the man. While jaunty and fun, this perhaps one of the weaker songs in terms of its lyrics, but that's not a problem when it comes to the next track, 'Steph(v)enson'. This track basically consists of a catchy chorus that's repeated several times between some quietly-spoken expositions on the lives of three different engineers and a novelist. The end result is something that's not just amusing but informative.
The third track, 'Bedlam', also contains spoken words, though rather less than 'Steph(v)enson' and is altogether a more rollicking sort of piece with a crude sensibility and very definitely played for laughs. 'Googles' comes next and this is the most obviously Steampunk track so far and might even be classed as a love song of sorts or at least a song about the sorts of women the singers appear to rate most highly. In any case, there's some great trumpeting about halfway through, as well as some of the most subtly-played instrumentals anywhere on the CD.
'Sewer' is presented like a drinking song, sung twice through, the second time at a faster pace. It's a comic poem at heart, but has something of the annoyance doubtless common to working men during the Victorian era as they found their world being constantly uprooted to make way for the march of progress.
'Boilerplate Daniel' is much faster and more punky. Again, it's a comic song about a iron-encased man mistaken for a machine. The seventh track is a more literary piece drawing heavily on those steampunk staples, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. The song chronicles what would appear to be a not entirely successful bid to be the first men on the Moon. 'A Traditional Victorian Gentlemen’s Boasting Song' is one of the more raucous tracks and consists of a succession of steadily more outrageous lyrics that alternate puns with one another.
'Blood Red' opens with 'Men Of Harlech' before launching into a savage appraisal of the British Empire. At 4:17 minutes, this is by far the longest track on the album. The last song is 'Charlie' and lays into Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution with the heat of a nova.
Overall, 'Now That's What I Call Steampunk! Volume 1' is an entertaining album that should appeal to anyone with a taste for steampunk or in fact Indy music generally. While there isn't a great deal of variety on the album and the album itself only runs for half an hour, at GBP 6.99, it's good value and the sleeve notes are surely essential for anyone wanting to fully appreciate the lyrics. Recommended.
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