Review of XX Teens album 'Welcome To Goon Island' released on Mute Records.
Originally from Southend but more recently associated with the artier side of the London scene, XX Teens haven't had the easiest of rides when it comes to getting their music heard but 'Welcome To Goon Island' is definitely a giant step in the right direction.
Desperate to move away from the whole White Heat/Artrocker clique as they may be, there are still moments where their past catches up with them, not least due to the fact many of the songs on 'Welcome To Goon Island' have been around for a fair few years now, some even going back to their previous incarnation before the shortened, slightly abbreviated prefix ridded them of their undermining "copyist" tag.
What makes the older material - and indeed the rest of the album for that matter - shine brighter than anyone would have expected a mere few months ago has to be the crisp, medium-rare production of Sheffield based Ross Orton, a man who's previously worked wonders with the likes of M.I.A. and Fat Truckers. His rough and ready approach gives the likes of 'Onkawara' and 'The Way We Were' an almost live feel, while the closing meltdown of 'For Brian Haw' sounds like These New Puritans covering Hawkwind, bar the spoken word outro.
That's not to say everything about this album is spot on of course. 'My Favourite Hat' still resembles a Sigue Sigue Sputnik outtake while occasionally Rich Cash takes his Mark E Smith obsession a little too far, particularly on the emotionless 'B-54' and messy art school noise of 'Sun Comes Up'. 'Only You' too is rather forgettable considering it was meant to be the album's main launch single. Indeed, the aforementioned 'Onkawara' or even re-recorded 'Darlin'' would probably have been better choices, but beggars can't be choosers as 'Welcome To Goon Island' marks a considerable improvement for a band many thought would evaporate and disappear faster than the scene they were initially borne from.
We're still not entirely sure where the '.Goon Island' reference to Great Britain came about from, but compared to the clumsy attempts of fellow capital-based outfits Dirty Pretty Things and The Holloways in issuing some kind of post-millennium pseudo-political statement, at least XX Teens have learnt to laugh with us rather than be ridiculed instead.
All in all, not a bad effort.