Sunday 29 March 2009

MJ Hibbett & the Validators - Regardez, Ecoutez et Repeatez (Artists Against Success)

Since The Great Indiepop Revival of the mid-2000s, some of my happiest moments have been spent at MJ Hibbett & the Validators gigs. And, as the decade draws to a close, it seems apt that Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez is all those wonderful times wrapped up in a beautifully packaged compact disc.

This album's been a long time coming, of course. Mark Hibbett has been honing these songs during his solo gigs and with the Validators for what feels like forever, but it's here that they sound at their fullest, most round, and joyous.

The rattling rush of Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid kicks things off, but it's the kooky Do More, Eat Less and the ACE Best Behaviour that really set the tone of the album. On previous Validators records Emma's voice has often been an afterthought, it seems to me, but here she actually adds a whole new, exciting dimension to the songs.

And what's this! Red Black Gold is a throwback to Hibbett songs of yesteryear. Y'know, songs like You Fucking Hippy, or Red and White Sockets. Red Black Gold rocks, and appears to be an account of an old Soviet conspiracy. And then, half way through, the songs changes completely and starts paraphrasing Ask by The Smiths. It's most queer.

My Boss Was in an Indie Band Once sounds like Jo Boxers' Boxerbeat sung by car mechanics. And is therefore fantastic. It Only Works Because You're Here is the best song he's written according to Hibbett, and is gently, prettily world weary - like all the best songs.

And the hits just keep on coming. I can quite easily show solidarity with We're Old andWe're Tired (and we want to go home), which laments the fact that gigs start and finish ridiculously late, when all you want to do is get home in time for the ten 0'clock news.

But! The highlight of this wonderfully assured, confident album is Leicester's Trying to Tell Me Something. A paean to the ever-changing cityscape of the East Midlands city, Hibbett mourns the fact that most of the places he grew up loving music in and meeting people who would be friends for life, are disappearing in the name of "progress". I think people of a certain age can empathise with this.

So, this is easily the best Validators record so far. And as long as we have Mark Hibbett's views on life set to music we love, then the world will be a slightly better place. Oh, and whilst I'm at it - congratulations to Tim the drummer for the production. Which is superb.

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