"Hot, isn't it?
Which is why I'm sat inside listening to the new Bart & Friends album, "Make You Blush", and wondering how the whole world didn't explode when Pam Berry and two of The Lucksmiths got in a studio together to make an album.
Mark, Louis, Pam and Bart from The Cat's Miaow are most of Bart & Friends, and the sleeve notes to this album would have you believe that it's been produced by James Dean. All those people come together to perform songs as adorable as 'These Words Are Too Small' or 'Memories Fade' - both of which remind me of bands as diverse (well, you know what I mean) as Brighter and Belle and Sebastian in their long-gone prime.
But it's hard not to come back to Pam Berry's voice. That downbeat, lush, wonderfully familar voice that almost like no other in pop is like an extra instrument, and Bart and his mates provide the perfect backdrop.
My only gripe is that it's only eight songs long, and my the time of the almost tear-inducing 'Weave Your Name', it's nearly time to say goodbye - and then press play again, obviously. They leave us with 'None of These Things', which is about the only time the guitars sound threatening.
The eight songs come in at under 15 minutes, but it's a 15 minutes that'll live with for a long time. 'Make You Blush' has been the soundtrack to a weekend on the Lincolnshire Wolds for me this past two days. It's made a great weekend just about perfect. It'll do the same for you, wherever you are or wherever you're going." A Layer of Chips
"If legendary racehorse trainer Bart Cummings was a musician, you'd expect him to still be in the winner's field. Cummings is a man of talent and intensity; to train horses you can't stuff around. With his thick eyebrows and gruff expression, he'd be banging out fast-paced beats with some thundering riffs to match. You'd expect a basic formula with the occasional lateral flourish; he'd hand-pick every member of his band, and heaven help anyone who contradicted Bart's instructions.
That image, however, is a million miles from the music created by Bart & Friends. This edition of Bart & Friends are an indie-pop collectives based around Bart Cummings — presumably a pseudonym laced with irony. The band's album, Make You Blush
, walks the line between style and substance — with its Italian mod aesthetic, the cover art is dangerously sharp; the elegant, Go-Betweens-esque songs are replete with melody and pop beauty.
A Summer's Dream
ambles along the path like a couple of young lovers living the moment like there's no tomorrow to worry about; Make You Blush
is bashful, a shy kid wandering sheepishly up to the object of his affection, stumbling his way earnestly through romantic poetry. These Words are Too Small
is as light and breezy as a fresh sea breeze; Memories Fade
is replete with the gold-plated pop sensibility of The Lemonheads before drugs turned Evan Dando's brain to muck, while the cover of Rodgers and Hart's Blue Moon
is enough to make the roughest bogan an emotional mess.
The romantic pop qualities of Come and See Me
are divine, and Weave Your Name
is so sweet and enticing it warrants a parental warning label. As a final treat, there's None Of These Things
, a wry assessment of the painful reality that follows the myopic construction of an idealistic future.
With eight songs in less than 20 minutes, you couldn't accuse Bart & Friends of overstaying their welcome. If anything, by the time Make You Blush
finishes you're only just getting warm and comfortable. If the real Bart Cummings heard this, he'd be demanding plenty more." Patrick Emery, Beat Magazine