Anglophile and English Professor John Fredrick has returned in his guise of The Black Watch. Their 17th album ‘Magic Johnson’ is out now via Atom Records.
Despite Fredrick’s Virginia roots and being based LA, vocally, he has North East England twang reminiscent of Maximo Park’s Smith. Opener ‘Mad’ and ‘Oh You Little Witch’ have the fragile yet spiky delivery the UK fell in love with on Maximo’s debut ‘A Certain Trigger’.
The album’s true strengths lie in the honesty and integrity of the Fredrick’s lyrics. As he decrees ‘I don’t know what you’re on about, half the time’, loveable heroes from British screens are lit up once more. The romanticism of ‘This Is England’s Woody leaps out of the stereo and, by the time of the solo, will leave you in tears.
‘Get Me Out’, sounds like The Cure on a US road trip with its shimmering and introspective sonic. It’s a great platform for the protagonist to attempt escape and a quest for meaning. ‘Knowing It Won’t Come Again (Has Made It All The Sweeter Than)’ is a bittersweet tale of love and laughter whilst getting older.
The Black Watch emerged out of the C86 scene so, it should come no surprise that ‘Jingle Jangle Loop de Loop’ is a beacon of light. The innocence and the psychedelic sway of their origins still oozes from their soul. There are so many right wing commentators yearning for a yesteryear that never really existed at present. So, to hear nostalgia delivered with love is a thing to be cherished.
The problem with ‘Magic Johnson’ though, is its length. It’s too long. Some trimming of the fat (‘Upsy Daisy’ and ‘Arcane Constraints’) and it would be marching up album of the year lists. Despite this, this a joyful meander downstream and one all should embark upon this summer.