MJ Hibbett & The Validators – The Lesson Of The Smiths/ The Gay Train CD Single

MJ Hibbett & The Validators
The Lesson Of The Smiths/ The Gay Train CD Single

For a refreshing change from the glut of alt-country, folk, and Americana bands clogging the internet and headphones with their depressing, sad-sack vocals and toned-down instruments, check out MJ Hibbett & The Validators, a U.K. band with an upbeat sound and intricate, witty lyrics delivered by the talky, but cheerful MJ Hibbett himself.

If you’re feeling down ‘n’ out ‘n’ blue, slap their album, We Validate!, on the stereo for an instant pick-me-up. Their tunes are the antithesis of a morose Morrissey, yet still packed to the gills with detailed, slice-of-normal-life accounts, told with a realistic, but sweetly positive point of view and quick-witted lyrics.

The band’s songs are awash with pop culture and contemporary reference points. Make sure to listen with headphones to catch all the lyric details – you’ll be grinning from ear to ear and nodding along in no time. Talk about talky – MJ Hibbett is even more verbose than a summit between such superpowers as Morrissey, Jarvis Cocker, and Damon Albarn. He sing-talks with a clear, engaging British accent, spouting off verbiage like an unstoppable waterfall.

Speaking of Morrissey, “The Lesson Of The Smiths” starts off with the punchy, upbeat guitar dynamics of The Smiths’s classic “This Charming Man”, then focuses on MJ Hibbett’s vocals amid violins that sound like fiddles because they are so enthusiastically sawed. The pace is brisk, and this song, like all the songs by MJ Hibbett & The Validators, is lyrics-centric and dense with delightful lyrics.

MJ starts off by saying he wasn’t into The Smiths at first, but eventually realized that “…from now on in life I’ll like the things I like with an open heart”. He comes to this conclusion while reflecting on his past – that he had a bad time at school and didn’t like the cool kids, so he hated their music too, which stood as a symbol of them.

But later on, when he went to “indie discos”, he decided he liked The Smiths and regrets never seeing the band perform live. The message of the story is that, “…if you’re dismissing things because they’re in with some other crowd, you will be the one who’s missing out” – so don’t wait – get into what you like right now and don’t let the idiots in life spoil your enjoyment of what you like.

You’d think that this kind of moralizing would be hard to swallow, but it goes down easy due to MJ’s cheeky, but pleasant vocals and fun story-telling. The chorus is perfect for a rousing pub sing-a-long and goes something like this: “Remember the lesson of Take That, if a pile of pillocks tend to like it, doesn’t mean it’s crap. And remember the lesson of The Smiths, just because a bunch of wankers like it, doesn’t mean that it’s shit”.

The other song on this single is “The Gay Train”, which looks back at the year 1994. It’s a long, sometimes lyrically-rambling, story of a friend of MJ’s (or is it MJ himself?) who is traveling with friends to a Gay Pride parade. On the train to the event he notices a passenger who “…looked very frightened, he wasn’t quite as enlightened as I was trying to be, with liberalism writ on my face, looking very hetero just in case, but no one even tried to get off with me”. The tune starts with sustained notes of distorted organ, then a drum beat, various noises, and fuzzed guitar.

The chorus builds up with strummed, noisy guitar and harmonica that sounds like a train whistle. At the end of each chorus bit, dynamic male and female vocals come in and also mimic the “Whoo, hoo, ooh, ooh!” of a train whistle. The tune is done in an exuberant style, and not in a preachy or sappy way, and it’s easy to believe MJ’s message that “…it doesn’t really matter if you’re straight or gay, all that matters is love”.