Goodnight And I Wish – A Ruffled Mind Makes A Restless Pillow

A Ruffled Mind Makes A Restless Pillow

Goodnight And I Wish - A Ruffled Mind Makes A Restless Pillow

Every now and again along comes a band, often with their first or most important album in tow, which somehow manage to invent either their own or an entirely new musical category, perhaps even genre. Massive Attacks Blue Lines gave Triphop to the world. “Tweepop” possibly sprang from the music of  The Cocteau Twins and definitely from that of The Pastels, while Loop and Curve can share the credit for ‘Shoegazing’ between them. Goodnight And I Wish is bringing to the table the self description “Lullaby Pop”, a result of songwriter Brandon Jacobs recurrent insomnia; “I would write instrumental pieces to listen to when I tried to sleep” he recounts, “then as time went by, I started adding stories, poems, and nursery rhymes to the music”. The results of these midnight sessions might help Brandon Jacobs get a proper nights sleep: everyone else can expect to find themselves kept well up past their bedtime as those darkly whimsical imaginings begin to inspire notions of garden creatures, cupboard monsters, unsettling and weird occurences happening in the most ordinary of circumstances, or indeed just make you feel like sitting up a bit later with that one extra cup of coffee. 
 
Now, A Ruffled Mind … could easily have been just a literate homage to some of the better known English songwriters, you know the ones, those keen-eyed commentators of everyday life whose inspirations are the least remarkable situations and whose lyrics are often actual pearls of wisdom – Syd Barrett, Nick Drake, Ray Davies, Paul Weller, perhaps even Damon Albarn and Pete Doherty. But Brandon Jacobs only wants to capture our attentions with such notions. Yes, there are underplayed moments of highly personalised poetics that recall Baby Lemonade and Waterloo Sunset, but there is also another altogether more abrasive and direct style in Jacobs songwriting armoury, and A Ruffled Mind … is also in part a fullblown Artpunk album, one whose sharper edges are planed by Jacobs’ own wry humours, grinning when others kick.

So, if opening track “An Exhibition Of Rarities” has the carnivalesque aura of a night at the circus which you might not return from, next track “The Dream Catcher” hails from altogether more familiar Britpop territories. “A Space In Time” is a spoken word commentary, with Jacobs sullenly declaiming his alienation over a driving rhythm track that convincingly evokes a rainy day in inner London, and also the track that most neatly pinpoints the contradiction at the heart of Jacobs’ own highly personalised vision. The cartoonery is only a facade, the weirdly skewed intro of “Norlington Works” reveals an altogether grittier side to an album that might, at least superficially, seem as if it could lapse totally into odes to lost toys and misbehaving squirrels. Something altogether more threatening is waiting for Jacobs whenever he comes off his night shift; ‘scratch scratch scratch / it’s trying to get in / eating through the walls / and heading for the bin’. Whatever is keeping our intrepid songwriter awake isn’t very friendly, and probably has a bit of a nasty bite on it. But such nightmarish moments fade with the sunlight and, obviously yearning for domesticity after all that nastiness, Jacobs next invites us to “Come To Mine For Tea” where he will introduce us to “My Pet Spider”, but all this chintzy cosiness is suddenly shattered by the powerthrust drum and bass of “Suicide Letter”, a radically different punk funk groove from the melodies that characterize the rest of the album, and also the strongest track.  But strength will only take you so far and it’s “Today’s Going To Be A Nice Day” that really shows us the theatricality at the core of  Goodnight And I Wish, a cheery vaudeville singalong that you could even tapdance to. The album title is a quote from somewhere in the work of 19th century novelist Charlotte Bronte, which, given the range of musical styles Jacobs is able to draw upon I wouldn’t put past the scope of Goodnight And I Wish to turn into a concept musical.

There are 15 tracks on the expanded edition of  A Ruffled Mind …, and there’s seemingly no end in sight to either Brandon Jacobs inventiveness or his gleefully arcane humours, which Goodnight And I Wish (while only Jacobs is taking much in the way of credit for the album, there are obviously several others involved in the project) are sufficiently adept musicians and mixers to keep firmly away from any accusations of self-indulgence or even plagiarism. A Ruffled Mind … is the work of a group of equally committed and enthusiastic performers, and carries with it a resultant air of actual originality. I don’t doubt for one second that the 250 numbered double CD editions of the album will practically vanish overnight.

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