Close Lobsters Post Neo Anti: Arte Povera In the Forest of Symbols

The new album from Close Lobsters has been six years in the making. The Scottish indie band Close Lobsters, who originally appeared on NME’s legendary C-86 cassette, have just released their first album in 32 years. Post Neo Anti: Arte Povera In the Forest of Symbols, is my first listen to this band having missed them first time around. The dramatic and bleak artwork belies the soaring optimism of the melodies in the grooves of this album.

The single ‘All Compasses Go Wild’ kicks off as a bold statement of intent. It’s a stunning opener, all hooks and swagger flowing into ‘The Absent Guest (No Thing, No There)’. The guitar tones are wonderfully consistent over these tracks. Reminiscent of early Orange Juice with the lyrical aplomb of Lloyd Cole.

‘Johnnie’ lyrically changes tack from the obtuse romantic broad strokes of the opening two tracks to something more immediate and direct. Intensely personal and heartfelt words are delivered over an ebullient and effervescent backing track. This is how you write a pop song.

‘Bird Free’ is the most eighties track on the album with a bass and guitar that Edwyn Collins will be lusting after.  It feels a bit disjointed at the start. It’s not until we get into the final minute of the track that all the pieces slip into place and this song soars.

That jigsaw like approach to building a song is put into play on ‘Godless’ to excellent effect. The drums are the glue on this track. They sound absolutely huge. Lyrically the subject matter is very prescient with the rise of the right globally happening right now. Especially in lines such as “One day they will come to resent freedom just as we resented security”.

‘Let the Days Drift Away’ arrives on a Van Morrison like wave of Hammond organ and country licks. It even has an “ooh la la” sing along section. Whilst the song itself is a great country song it jars the listening of this album from the eighties tinged alt-pop we have been enjoying as we move into my favourite song on the album ‘Now Time’.

This is an exceptional piece of pop music with the most simplistic of choruses. Simple but very effective. I defy anyone not to have this running around their brain all day after hearing it.

‘New York City in Space’ brings back those pounding drums and chiming guitars for another nostalgia-soaked dance in memory lane which continues into the misspent youth of ‘Under London Skies’. The song concludes with a whistle-stop trip through the years cataloguing the bands exploits in soundbites. You can feel the fondness for London. It’s an honest heartfelt song that sets us up nicely for this album’s finale, ‘Wander’.

Opening with a spoken word piece reminiscent of Edwin Morgan’s appearance on Idlewild’s ‘The Remote Part/Scottish Fiction’ the song slowly evolves into a massive foot stomping, hand waving classic. “We have to wander all alone” Andrew Burnett wistfully sings as the song skips along to its rousing end.

As introductions go, this has been a very impressive one. This album has somehow managed to bottle up the best of that eighties indie scene and transported it through time and end up sounding fresh yet undiluted.

Post Neo Anti: Arte Povera In the Forest of Symbols is out now through Last Night From Glasgow and Shelflife Records.

Mark Anderson
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