Loopy, Off-kilter, Nostalgic and Fun
B. Niedt | Cherry Hill, NJ United States | 07/04/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I got hooked by the video of "Bathtime in Clerkenwell", a strange silhouette/papercutting/magic lantern animation that seems to have something to do with birds taking over the world. The vocals sound like someone scat-singing through a megaphone. I'd never seen or heard anything quite like it, so intrigued, I played the CD at my local Tower listening station. Wow! This is an incredibly well-done, tongue-in-cheek combination of 30's dance hall music and electronica - it made me smile all the way through. Stephen Coates' many influences have been cited or suggested - everyone from Terry Gilliam to Tom Waits to old-time British performers like Al Bowlly. But I don't think I've heard this loopy a homage to '20's and '30's music since the Bonzo Dog Band - that's what this CD recalls for me. If you want something completely different (Monty Python reference intended), give this unique CD a try. P.S.: my only quarrel with the CD is that so far, I haven't been able to access the CD-ROM video of "Bathtime in Clerkenwell" - maybe it's just me...."
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 07/05/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""I never really wanted this job. But look at it from my point of view." So says Stephen Londoner Coates, known to the world as the Real Tuesday Weld. Melding electronica with 20's and 30's jazz, he concocts the strangely alluring "I Lucifer." His murmuring vocals and hallucinatory musical style make this a bizarre delight.Coates starts off in "It's A Dirty Old Job But Somebody's Got To Do It," a reflective, melancholy monologue. Then the melancholy is shed with the infectious jazzy "Bathtime In Clerkenwell" and the angular "(Still) Terminally Ambivalent Over You." It slows down with the soaring "Someday (Never)," and the languid "Easter Parade," followed by the tense "The Life & Times Of The Clerkenwell Kid." It rounds off with the quietly hopeless "Someday (Soon)," and the ethereal, wavering "Pearly Gates.""I Lucifer" is the imagined soundtrack to Glen Duncan's novel of the same title, about the devil having a second chance on earth, if he can last out a certain time period with no sinning. Story records don't come along too often, but "I Lucifer" works quite well, partly because it's just so fun.The music is a a seemingly unholy mix of lounge jazz and electronica. But Coates melds them together without a hitch. The joyous scatting, gentle percussion, horns, cymbals, and orchestral choirs are all layered with old fuzz and distortion, which adds to the early 20th century feel of the music. At the same time, he uses electronic backdrops to give it a slightly hallucinatory feel.Coates' vocals aren't exceptional, as a singer. When he actually sings, as he does in "Someday (Never)," his voice sounds scratchy. But when he murmurs, he sounds seductive and vaguely amused. It fits in with the atmosphere of smoky cabarets and corporeal devils, especially in the opener, where he calmly tells us, "It doesn't matter. You fall... you don't rise again," backed by violins.He may not be able to really sing, but the Real Tuesday Weld has made a unique experience in his second album. Sepia-tinted jazz is mixed with electronica in "I Lucifer," one of the most original guilty pleasures of 2004."
WrtnWrd | Northridge, CA USA | 08/14/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Real Tuesday Weld presents I, Lucifer is alternative cabaret at its goofiest and most entertaining. London-based Stephen Coates, TRTW's braintrust, is Stephin Merritt without remorse (in fairness to Merritt, he doesn't quite have his catalog of Cole Porter melodies, either). This first official release (after a series of EP's) is a kicky romp through the English music hall and is called, in the CD notes, a cycle of "torch songs straight from Hell". It's not all that, but Coates has a way with genre exercises. "(Still) Terminally Ambivalent Over You" could just as easily be eked out on a ukulele as it is played as a blues shuffle (with carousel organ). "The Eternal Seduction of Eve" is spoken-word loungecore; "La Bête et la Belle" pungent French cheese. Best of all is the wordless, though not vocal-less, "Bathtime in Clerkenwell" - three minutes of nonsense that Bobby McFerrin should record on Ecstasy."