Prior to March 29, Alan Moffat (formerly of The Diggers) hadn’t released any new material for the past twenty years. What was he doing for all of that time? Presumably losing patience and dispensing with small-talk, pretty-words, even metaphors.
Maybe it’s just a Scottish thing, but the entire album Adult Themes seems to be based in straight conversation and clear-eyed realism. Not that the words are ugly or missing proper turns of phrase, there is just a palpable lack of beating around the bushes. It’s refreshing.
The Glaswegian band's entire website bio says: “The West of Scotland VS the Rest of the World. The Paisley Patterns are a 6 Piece Rock and Roll band from Glasgow. Nothing more.”
And that is a pretty fair self-assessment. They’re not trying to rock harder than anyone else. They’re not trying to say something that no other human ever had occur to them. Not trying to break any paradigms. They’re making rock n’ roll, reporting on what they see and entertaining people. It can seem a little on-the-nose for those that like poetry, trope and filigree, but this is like having a talk with an old-friend that knows you too well to mince words.
Adult Themes does tackle big topics: Brexit, suicide, class-warfare and the like. But they seem to approach it all from an every-man angle in a bar-band friendly way. You get the feeling that they’re the kinds of guys who, despite disagreeing with everything you say, will never state their rebuttal in a way that you will be able to take as an insult, try as you may.
The music matches the content and is very straight-ahead rock. The album is reminiscent of early ‘80s pop-balladry, but the truth is that this is the kind of music that could exist in any rock-era, fit in there, and find an audience. It’s well done, melodic guitar-and-sax stuff. Good backing vocals, nothing auto-tuned.
The lead-track “Throw It All in the Sea” is just about being fed up with the every-day grind: success or failure - it just isn’t scratching the itch. Like most of the album, it’s easy to identify with and hard to argue against. And it has a nice horn-solo.
The track that will jump out and catch most listeners the first time through the album is “No Siree.” It’s a fun little rockabilly jam, easy to stomp your foot to and sing along with, but what will get most folks giggling is the constant refrain, “I don’t want to be a dick about it...” The fact that the song’s subject may just be that the narrator is considering how to off himself doesn’t have to ruin anyone’s enjoyment.
“Man Short” is another standout track. They call out everyone and everything in an attempt to reset expectations to where they ought to be. The term “man short” will be a little more familiar to fans of European football (soccer to some), wherein a team that has a player sent off for disciplinary reasons has, then, to play the rest of the game a “man-short.” This is similar to the power-play in hockey, but lasts for the rest of the game and makes everyone still on the field work harder to make up for their undisciplined team-mate. It usually results in exhaustion and the eventual concession of goals. (Anyone see Bournemouth vs. Tottenham May 4?) Basically, the song is a call to remain present and do your part in today’s sociopolitical climate. While you were doing a bong, the country voted for Brexit, Trump, fill in the blank...
With ten songs in just over thirty eight minutes, Adult Themes has no epic-rockers or long instrumental segments. They still do manage to fit in some nice jam sequences, as at the end of “Same Old Song” which one imagines is used for more solo vamping when they play out live. The musicianship is solid.
Adult Themes is a comfortable listen with deeper themes for those that want to interrogate the lyrics.
Cue it up when entertaining. It pairs beautifully with Chardonnay and mild lagers and it brings the occasional grin.
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