ART POP – NOT THE Lady Gaga album but the concept, the thing – is at a premium these days. Where are the unsettled minds, viewing the world askance, to a soundtrack that’s surprising, derailing, evolving? Well, three of them are over here: Young Knives’ Henry Dartnall, Oliver Askew and House Of Lords, confirmed MOJO favourites since their 2006 debut album Voices Of Animals And Men and worms-that-turned, UK industrial park Salarymen-gone-postal personae set a spiky new tone in UK indie that was subsequently co-opted and suborned by duller minds.
Since then their progress has been erratic – as in unpredictable – as in interesting – incorporating impulsive experiments with punk, folk, synths and prog, and while one can hardly doubt they’d prefer to be more popular than they are, their inability to fit in, even or indeed especially as nerdy outsiderdom became infuriatingly hipsterized, can only be applauded. It’s hard to imagine a band who would despise hipsters more than Young Knives.
Which leads us to Something Awful, this typically atypical tease from their upcoming fourth album, Sick Octave, due November 4. Bracingly oddball, it builds from squelchy synth prods into a tangled prog-out and resolves in a febrile, showstopping blare – the nearest thing this serpentine thing gets to a chorus. Wire are in here somewhere. So are King Crimson, a bit. And a less clownish Cardiacs. Or maybe none of them. It’s definitely weird, though, and amazing.
“I can feel that I’m changing… into something awful,” intones Dartnall, with that familiar plaint of blackly-humoured self-loathing before declaring: “You’re gonna love me.”
Despite or maybe because of everything, I think we are.