Review: The Teardrop Explodes – Wilder (Expanded Edition)
Published on June 3rd, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Well, it’s about bloody time Rocksucker delved into The Teardrop Explodes, so patient has their relatively small back catalogue been in the metaphysical waiting room marked Artists We Must Get Round To. Quite frankly, we’re a little put out that no one forced us at gun point to do so earlier: their second and final album Wilder, originally released in 1981 and now getting ‘bumped’ along with a bonus disc of contemporaneous B-sides and and an alternative version of the LP hewn from BBC sessions, is a masterclass in psychedelic pop.
Opener “Bent Out of Shape” flaunts a glorious odd-pop chorus to rank alongside XTC and the like, before Julian Cope lays bare his love of Forever Changes with a distinctly Arthur Lee-esque “ahhh” on “Colours Fly Away”, not to mention the line “Colour in my face and yell ‘extremist!'”. Coming from Liverpool, where bands have regularly sounded overly in thrall to The Beatles ever since the original Mania, The Teardrop Explodes evoke the Fab Four spirit not through imitation but by giving the impression that it hadn’t even occurred to them what they were ‘supposed’ to sound like.
One diverting aspect of arriving belatedly (and reasonably uninformed) at the works of a band from pop music’s middle ages is playing Spot the Influence from both sides of the fence. In terms of The Teardrop Explodes’s influence on future generations, the guitar work and chipper trumpet line of “Falling Down Around Me” seems to point the way forwards towards Blur, while “…and The Fighting Takes Over” was conceivably an inspiration to Super Furry Animals, which of course means it’s sublime.
Like the best works of those groups, Wilder is unfailingly colourful and just the right pitch between smooth and wonky. Ingenious lyrical turns crop up at every turn: “A cheating heart is still a beating heart / I’m leaving you today” (“Passionate Friend”) and “I’m only concerned with looking concerned / I don’t want to get my laces burned” (“The Great Dominions”) are two such examples, the latter served up over a backdrop of sparse, crashing drums and dreamy ’80s synth paddery.
Special mention for the live version of “Sleeping Gas” on CD2, in amongst which we’re pretty sure we hear Cope saying “for those of you with bad eyesight, the people at the front are now witnessing a face solo”. It dissipates into weird electronic gurgling and ‘Batman theme’ trumpets as Cope rants away with a weird effect on his voice, saying things like “we have the horizontal and we have the vertical, and you’ve got the money”, “Mercenaries by John Cale, have you heard it?” and “we’ve got a problem here, one of the propellers has broken”.
So, yeah; if you’re yet to do so, bloody listen to The Teardrop Explodes already, for they were truly extraordinary.
Rocksucker says: Four and a Half Quails out of Five!
The Expanded Two-Disc RePresents Edition of Wilder will be released on June 24th by Mercury/Universal.
For more information, please visit Julian Cope’s Head Heritage website.