Papernut Cambridge – Love The Things Your Lover Loves

Papernut Cambridge - Love The Things Your Lover Loves

Papernut Cambridge – Love The Things Your Lover Loves

Initially created by ex-Thrashing Doves/Death In Vegas member Ian Button, as little more than an amusing conceptual conceit, Papernut Cambridge certainly displayed considerable charm via last year’s covers LP Nutlets 1967-80. Specialising in the lesser-known gems from that imaginative bracket, such as Cockney Rebel’s “What Ruthy Said”, Jacky’s (classic ’60s kids TV theme) “White Horses” and featuring a standout hyper-cool version of Lyndsey De Paul’s criminally underrated 1972 single, the smart and smouldering “Sugar Me”, Nutlets signalled both the band’s fascination with that musical era and their singular ability to turn a convincing hand at revitalising its variety of sounds.

Under Button’s directorial baton The ‘Nut, as they are commonly known, represent a form of indie-super-group-by-accident; a collection of musicians that, on one level, appear randomly assembled but on closer inspection are very astutely chosen. Eight strong (too many to list in total) they include indie stalwarts such as Darren Hayman, the potential rising-star Ralegh Long (he’s talented, young and has high cheek-bones, so I’d ‘go a fiver’ on that prediction) and newest splash-of-paint Hélène Bradley. What’s notable is that it’s a band entirely comprised of musical ‘leaders’ and, collectively, represents a formidable track record of musical talent, ambition and achievement.

Love The Things That Your Lover Loves lives, unsurprisingly, within the same musical context as Nutlets but – at the risk of descending into journalistic cliché – marks a quantum leap forwards. This album is no mere reflection upon or celebration of the glories of a particular musical golden age. Rather, it takes those ‘ups’ on (centring upon ’70s upbeat glam-tinged pop) and, for the most part, betters them. I should, perhaps, confess that I am ‘of an age’ with the Papernut leader, so I take the music of this period as seriously as any will-forever-be-a-12-year-old can do and bow to no-one in my regard for it. Musically, this is simply ‘where I live’. Yet, though fully expecting to be analysing Love The Things… with a very sharply critical ear I have, instead, ascended into full-on fandom. Well, it can happen to even with the most hardened critic. They also have such a cool logo…

Herein one is never far from a highlight, but pit-stopping at the title-track with its stomp beat, Steve Harley tinged ‘attitude’ and mangled vocal mannerisms is a perfect start. “The Lady Who Told A Lie” offers the neat tie-up of an intro melody that could grace a Stylistics hit with a verse and chorus that inhabit full on Big Star territory. Euphorically, melodically ‘announced’, à la solo-period Lennon, over a shuffle-beat reminiscent of Fox’s “He’s Got Magic” is the kitsch-kick glory of liqueur-paean (yes, I’m serious) “Chartreuse” (“Like drinking a Christmas tree, the taste of the Thirty Years War”) and seeing us off from the party is the lunatic enjoyment of band signature tune/name check “The Nut” wherein, atop a yob-girl chant, Button’s slap-back vocal furiously channels the urchin spirit of David Essex.

But it’s the little touches that make Love The Things That Your Lover Loves into such a joyous experience. When, on “Chartreuse”, Jack Hayter’s (who shines through-out the album) dripping violas appear, they come in the style of ELO. Yet, not the accomplished but ultimately repetitive ‘chop-chop’ style of the full-blown big hit Jeff Lynne singles, but in the fashion of ELO’s original experimental Roy Wood period; baroque in tone and with a captivating reedy simplicity. In fact, in production terms, it’s Button’s taste for cool understatement that carries the day and a good deal of the album’s pleasure is contained in its vibe of confidently restrained power. In each song, the arrangements always give exactly enough and never bludgeoned and it’s the understanding of such effective details, cumulatively applied thought out, that displays both a phenomenal comprehension of exactly what it takes to craft interesting, original pop music and allows the band to do exactly that.

Love The Things That Your Lover Loves feels celebratory and is an album of genuine warmth which, despite drawing upon the stylings of a bygone musical era, contains no trace of pastiche or tedious irony. Everything is the right way round, here; the song content is always primary and the retro-crafting used as an appropriate decorative accompaniment. The closest point of comparison might be the work of Saint Etienne (psychologically as much as musically) but dare I suggest that the ‘Nut have a naturalistic edge over Cracknell and Co? As accomplished as St. E undoubtedly are, there has always been (for me) a slight whiff of intellectual study about them. With The ‘Nut, the emotion feels real. It’s also far superior, in terms of sheer song quality, to the likes of the well-intentioned and amusing yet ultimately rather two-dimensional ’70s-esque stylings of Denim.

In truth, if you have little interest in the gloriously eclectic pop music generated between the late-’60s and mid-’70s then you’re a fool. Sorry, I mean ‘the full charms of this album may escape you’. That there is a slight element of retro-knowingness about it is inescapable. Yet, far less than that located in the seemingly endless attempted re-calibration of very average ’80s jingle-jangle melodicism currently presented by oh-so-many low expectation indie outfits. So, for those with ears to hear, uncork the Mateus Rose, get out the fondue set and buy a Jason King box-set. DOA reviews do not, traditionally, award stars or allot review marks. But I’m giving this a 10.

Gare du Nord Records