This is a review of "Four Short and Varied Songs Regarding Money, Effort, Worth and Self" recorded by Silverlode. The review was written by Maria Pinto-Fernandes in 2011.
The EP begins with 'Work': a wistful, spiralling lament against the modern day's obsessive work ethic and our misguided belief that anything less than a 60-hour week is considered slacking. It's refreshing to hear an upbeat mockery of how rubbish modern life is, as opposed to a frustratingly vacuous rage against the system, when we know we are destined to remain cogs in the great machine.
The second track shows that it isn't necessarily a bad thing if you can't teach an old dog new tricks, because Silverlode have retained their musical versatility. One of the reasons why they are so endearing is precisely this: that they can turn their respective hands to almost any musical soundscape they seek. The wonderfully named 'Sherlock Bleedin' Homes' begins in a far more mellow tone than the opener, although the spoken-word intro of Jeremy Brett citing, 'Give me problems. Give me work...' could be loosely interpreted as a continuation of the theme. However after a light sprinkling of guitar, we're off into beat poet territory for a moment, before gleefully enjoying the full force of a no-holds barred pop song. Yes! We're back again, in an era where pop is not a dirty word. What follows seems to be a scourge on governmental intrusion. It's a far cry from the laissez-faire attitude of 50s politicians compared to the age of paranoia we find ourselves living in today, even if the actual inspiration for the song is actually more banal than that. I guess that's what I love about Silverlode's output: it can be taken at face value or examined far more closely than was ever intended, such is the scope of their collective talent. This is a particularly strong track because of the many threads it has running through it, as it appears to gaily hop from spoken-word to street poetry to pop with a jazzy undercurrent.
Nudity in the title of the third song, 'The Breeze Between Your Legs (Naked)' may well put the wind up some listeners, so to speak. But if one can put British conservative attitudes to one side, grab a glass of water and a sit down, the 5 minutes that follow offset the hot flush. The musical arrangement and helplessly optimistic rhythm of The Breeze Between Your Legs (Naked) celebrates the aforementioned British sensibility. 'Day to day it's always the same/ Get dressed and join the queue/ Feel shame for being you', harks back to the first track's mourning for the oppressive uniformed monotony of daily life. There is an inescapable joie de vivre that's happily infectious as the Silverlode boys sing in a gloriously haphazard harmony, 'Just for being naked (naked)' on a loop. Loosen your shirt and laugh!
The closer 'Me and Billy Bragg' begins with a defiant drum beat that rouses the listener and makes sure that just because it's the end of the EP, it doesn't mean it has to be a quiet one. 'The government, the taxman and the wolf at the door' may be familiar villains these days, but it's the ferocious energy with which Rob, Scott and Gaz sing and play which really makes it. Additionally, even though it is a passionate unleashing of a collective anger against the system, like everything Silverlode do, it's infused with, well, fun. It's all very well saying fuck the world, but you can't let the bastards grind you down, right? Otherwise you're just miserable, and who wants to be friends with a scrooge?
Well done, Silverlode. You've done it. Again. As usual.