Voxtrot – Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives

Voxtrot are a fun band with whom to play Spot the Influences. You can hear two generations of British songcraft on this EP. Everything from the bubbly baroque pop of the Beatles’ Penny Lane to the lyrical density of Elvis Costello and the melancholy of The Smiths. If Moz grew up in Texas, he would spin out lines like, “this place is like a wound” in disdain of sunny Austin instead of miserable Manchester. But musical trainspotting does not do justice to the integrity of the band’s melodies and arrangements, their sense of dynamics and, most of all, songwriter Ramesh Srivastava’s lyrical invention. Four Long Days would not be out of place on Elvis Costello’s Imperial Bedroom or Squeeze’s Argybargy. As a description of a vacation gone sour it is the flipside of Squeeze’s Pulling Mussels (from the Shell) coupled with Costello’s ability to hint at the unspoken tensions between people with a few deft observations. Srivastava also has an ear for attention-capturing aphorisms, such as, “If you see this world as ugly and thin / Then you’ll be cruel to the touch and lose the body you’re in.” This isn’t a biting putdown in the manner of Morrissey; it is an observation pertaining to the characters in the song but also stands out as a piece of phenomenological philosophy, one which points out the mutual implication of our modes of perception with our embodiment in the world. You would have to pull out your Howard Devoto and Magazine albums to find a comparable level of rock philosophizing. (Eric Weissengruber)

CD, Cult Hero, www.voxtrot.net

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