I've been vaguely aware of The Great Leap Forward for what seems like my entire post-Elton John-loving life, but as far as I'm aware I'd never heard a note before listening to this, the band's latest album.
I say band, and I'm sort of fibbing because The Great Leap Forward is "just" Alan Brown, the singer from the much-loved bIG*FLAME (another band who I've always been aware of without really getting around to listening to much of their stuff).
bIG*FLAME's pop was a combination of wiry guitars and awkward rhythms, with confrontational, often mildly surreal vocals over the top, and awkward is a good word for 'This is Our Decade...' Brown might have mellowed slightly musically, but his lyrics, if anything, have become more at odds with the world?And why not when those at the top seem completely intent on fucking the rest over whilst feathering their own palatial nests (that are probably in Surrey, or Buckinghamshire, or somewhere).
'This is Our Decade..." starts off as a deeply political record, with Brown's trademark schizo guitars scratching deep for the truth, especially on the wonderfully angry 'Race to the Bottom'. However, about three-quarters of the way through things mellow out a bit, and there are almost moments of whimsy in titles such as 'Heaven's Just a Short Journey from Platform 4a', which tells the tale of a trip around the Peak District. Brown concludes that, whilst the Peaks are "beautiful' and he "loves them all", that "Yorkshire though is prettier by far."
There's more train talk on 'I Catch the Last Bus Home With the Driver of The Flying Scotsman' (yeah, this is a record all about long titles), that tells the story of a night out in Doncaster - a terrifying prospect at the most sober of times (and I grew up going out in Grimsby wearing backcombed hair). It's a lovely, warm, pissed-up song.
Yet this is really agit-pop at it's very best. Those two lighter moments aside, 'This is Our Decade...' is a kick up the arse to the much rest of pop music which seems intent on getting by by pretending that nothing really bad is happening, and that singing exclusively about not copping off with the girl from the chip shop is all that matters. There's nothing wrong with heartbreak over a saveloy, but sometimes I need more, and the Great Leap Forward have given me it. A properly thrilling, angry piece of work.