It's been over two years since I first heard The Felt Tips' excellent 'Living and Growing' album - although it seems longer. That record brought with it chiming guitars, kitchen sink drama, and stories of underage sex. It remains a firm favourite.
'Symbolic Violence', after repeated listenings since I got my hands on it on Saturday, dares to join its older brother at the top table. It's hardly a statement that The Felt Tips have moved on - but then why bother changing for the sake of it?
Most of what made 'Living and Growing' so special is still all here to lose yourself in; the unanswered questions of 'Teenage Bully', the comfort of nostalgia and the thrill of near-violence in 'The Heat of the Summer', or the seedy skiffle of 'Whipped Off'.
The centrepiece of this wonderful album is 'Friends in High Places' - an clarion call of comradeship for those who have seen their friends go on to better-paid jobs, and/or who see themselves as more "virtuous" than those lower down the social scale. Vocalist Andrew Paterson rightly points out that piety might be a good sleeping aid, but then so is Benilyn... and fuck sleeping anyway, he's going out tonight. It's an understated masterpiece that brings to mind The Smiths' 'Stretch Out and Wait' both lyrically and musically.
The album ends with a tongue-in-cheek (I think) look at being a second child. "Everybody knows, what no-one wants to say..." croons Paterson in his choirboy Scottish brogue. Autobiographical? Who knows, but on this showing Ma and Pa Paterson can be proud.
Take a listen to 'Iron Lady', from 'Symbolic Violence'.