On and On (The Anthology)... The sun isn't always out
Review: Longpigs – On and On (The Anthology)
Published on May 10th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
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Until now, Rocksucker only really knew (and loved) “She Said”. What a great song it is, though: even at a young age, it conjured for this writer a hazy yet slightly manic air of celebratory comedown before even knowing what that really was. Sheffield rockers Longpigs have been mentioned in hushed, reverential tones ever since, and this comprehensive look back over their short career makes it abundantly clear why they are so cherished by those in the know.
Put simply, On and On (The Anthology) is, having never really got round to delving deeper, a revelation to us. Getting underway with the aforementioned hit, it goes on to serve up ingenious tune after ingenious tune until, all of a sudden, the fact that they had one Richard Hawley on lead guitar feels rather lower down the list of Interesting Things About Longpigs. The starring roles here are of course taken by Crispin Hunt’s enthrallingly throaty rasp and wry, clever lyrics; in fact, such is is the mix of lyrical sludge-rock and blissed-out jangling present on this compilation, we’re tempted to crown them – in case no one already has – the Sheffield Pavement.
Lofty comparison, right? Well, just get a load of this lot. “Jesus Christ” mirrors “She Said” by veritably erupting into its chorus, as if those “10,000 gallons of sludge from New York and New Jersey” had momentarily engulfed the Steel City. “Lost Myself” also brings to mind Pixies, specifically the oft-ripped “Where is My Mind?”, but its elegance and sophistication grant it a beauty all of its own. It’s even got an ornate string section: oh, Britpop excess!
“Far” is an absolute stonker, welding the majestic nonchalance of early Blur to the articulate humour of fellow Sheffielders Pulp, offering up a remarkable line in backing vocals that give it the feel of a rich man’s Futureheads. It should have been a hit then and it could conceivably still be one now. There are so many great tracks here that we shall save your time and ours by merely handpicking a few extra-honourable mentions: “Blah Blah Blah” is as brilliantly brattish as the title implies, “Miss Believer” a round of gorgeous floaty ambience punctuated by a tooting keyboard line, while “Blue Skies” rides on a fabulous syncopated guitar lick, reminding Rocksucker of Kingsize-era Boo Radleys and the Beck of Odelay and/or Midnite Vultures. Ace, ace and thrice ace.
And the lyrics…damn, the lyrics! Get a load of these from “Gangsters”: “I’m Staring buck naked at the world / No fig leaf needed, pure as gold / Burst all this complicated bliss that rots the love of God / Stood where Moses trod the lucky sod / And fizz the first touch of your tongue, flinched like the grip of moist uncle, sniff sweet cocaine and disco sick / ‘Cause I can drink to this, every shot of bliss”. Oasis this ain’t.
Or how about this from “New York”, delivered in a speak-sing drawl reminiscent of Stephen Malkmus on Pavement classic “Stereo”: “In New York, we swam like a dog in the sun / Like a critic needs a shield, like a chicken needs a field / In New York, we sat like a bus stop in hell / Like a spotlight has to fade, like a wanker wearing shades / Like a telephone needs calls, like a lesbian needs balls / Like I’m always second best, like I’ve got it off my chest / Like a mystic needs to fate, like a glutton needs to sate / Like a lawyer needs a law, like a millionaire needs more / Like escapists need to go, like a winner has to gloat / Like all time will surely heal, like a Santa Claus is real”. Shed Seven this ain’t.
“Tendresse” is sparse and downbeat yet still thoroughly melodic and immediately arresting – it’s the good kind of impassioned, as is the ensuing “Sweetness” – and then we get show-stopping B-side “Vagina”, which frankly you just have to hear for yourself…
There you are: proof positive that a song can be hilarious and absolutely top-notch at the same time. By the time of “Your Face”, we surmise that listening to a Longpigs chorus can be a bit like getting ‘gunged’, except with awesome blaring distortion rather than whatever manner of muck they used on Noel’s House Party. Throw in a couple of Radio 1 Evening Session tracks and fantastically addled, utterly superb remix of “The Frank Sonata”, and you’ve got yourself a deal that’s all kinds of sealed. On and on (The Anthology) has been a revelation to us; we strongly suggest, if you haven’t already, to ‘get involved’.
Rocksucker says: Four and a Half Quails out of Five!
On and On (The Anthology) is out now on Polydor.