Rating: 6 / Format: CD / Label: Rotters Golf Club
For some it may come as a surprise that this is Andrew Weatherall’s debut. Ever since he pushed a certain indie band in a less indie direction (thus ensuring that even his gravestone will have "producer of Screamedelica" written on it) his presence in British electronic music has been undeniable. Yet while his discography is considerable, a predilection for working collaboratively – from his very first Happy Mondays remix done hand in hand with Paul Oakenfold, right up to the recent excursions with the Boardroom – has meant that a full-length solo offering has been a long time coming.
It’s kind of disappointing then, that A Pox on the Pioneers largely fails to live up to expectations. For a man that helped pioneer dance-rock, the tension between the two disciplines often feels aggressively at odds. Take ‘Miss Rule’, a studied marriage of twanging rockabilly chords and schaffel with a grisly treated vocal that feels passé; the scorches of synth trying to corral the organic elements into an electronic template. Elsewhere, ‘Selective Walking’ breeches the post-punk territory of Two Lone Swordsmen, with a bass line reminiscent of The Cure and a portentous choral synth the backdrop for an unspooling guitar instrumental.
It’s telling that when Weatherall resists reconciling his twin passions quite so obviously, the results are far more satisfying. The combination of elastic bass guitar and fragile, filtered synths on ‘All The Little Things (That Make Life Worth Living)’ compliment rather than compete with each other, while ‘Walk of Shame’s space disco is a lush note to end on. Still, A Pox on the Pioneers is an idiosyncratic and surprising debut at best – I expected something more.