I'm not entirely sure when I first came across Mascot Fight. My mind seems to skirt across much of the 2000s like a knackered needle on a record, but whereas I can remember distinctly where I was when I first time I heard Derby contemporaries Lardpony, how Mascot Fight came into my life remains a mystery.
Answers on a postcard, please.
I think this is Mascot Fight's second album, but how they're still going remains a mystery. Their first, 'Pantomime Hearse' is a cruelly-ignored classic, and, by now, a mixture of sparsely attended gigs, band members living hundreds of miles apart, and general apathy from a record-buying public who should know better, would have forced a lesser band to hang up their boots. Mascot Fight are better than that, mind...
With all this trouble and strife in mind, then you'd be forgiven for thinking that 'Abscond and Hey Presto!' would be a downbeat, maudlin affair. Oh, well, you'd be right. Take 'Vanuatu', for example, sung by Tom John in his faltering choirboy voice, which might sounds all sweetness and light but has lyrics with real claws and reminds this listener of some of Beulah's more triumphant, yet bittersweet, moments.
Or, what about the follow-up, the nearly-funky, psychedelic 'Played A Hand' (a past single), which might or might not be about wanking, but has the kind of lyrics that paint of picture of admiration from afar which always appeal to me.
Centrepiece of the action is 'Interior Speeches', which is classic Mascot Fight and the sort of jittery paranoid pop that they do pretty much better than anyone else. It's all peaks and then more peaks. And then another peak. They manage to follow this up with the ode to smalltown mentality, 'In the Mouth of the A Dessert', about how certain people seem to thrive on failure, which is saying more to me about my life than 99 per cent of music around at the moment.
'Bucky Balls', sung by Sean in his north-east brogue, tells the dark tale of a wife murdering her husband. It's dark stuff, some of this, but then along comes 'Retconning' and steals the show entirely, again sung by Tom in a deeply world-weary way, as he kills his idols in three and half minutes of the sweetest pop music you'll hear.
I don't want to get all regionalist on your arsehole, but I can't help but think that if Mascot Fight were from London or somewhere glamorous and vogue-ish like Stockholm, then more people would have heard of them by now. But, Derby it is, and Derby it will stay. Let's just hope that the majesty of this album manages to break out of the East Midlands gulag into the wider world.
You can hear the entire album here. But once you've done that, you should really buy it, shouldn't you?