Unpopular Advent 2018 – Day 3

Go Kart Mozart – Mozart’s Mini-Mart

Does newness sell as much as nostalgia? I do not know. What I do know is that whilst in 2018 I left the admittedly the delicious looking Felt re-issues on the shelf for more avid collectors to hoover up, I gleefully shelled out my hard-earned cash on the new record by Go-Kart Mozart. It had been six years since the last Go-Kart Mozart record (the euphoric, unsettling, touching and sneeringly bonkers genius of On The Hot-Dog Streets) and boy was it worth the wait. When Hot-Dog lit up 2012 I said it was easily Lawrence’s most accessible and accomplished record since the startlingly brilliant and ahead-of-its-time Back In Denim. I’m delighted to tell you that Mozarts’ Mini-Mart builds on those foundations and claims the title of the most perfect NoveltyTrashPopGlamPunkWhatever record you are likely to hear this week, month, year or ever. Yes yes, Pure Pop hyperbole and that is part of the nod and the knowing wink I’m throwing you, but really, really, really. It’s True. Mini-Mart reeks of bubblegum perfume and tastes of Bazooka Joe acid drops.

The video for the magnificent ‘When You’re Depressed’ seems to posit the perfectly Pop idea of Lawrence as idea rather than individual, persona as opposed to person. Young figures inhabit what to long-standing fans (and tragically, this is still the most likely audience for this record) are instantly recognisable as Lawrence outfits. The ploy infuses the whole thing with the aura of youthful playfulness and crucial cool, although whether any younger tastemakers and influencers will ever see it and then agree is another matter. It’s a great song that treads the tightrope between objectifying and devaluing mental health through humour and being drearily serious and worthy. Lawrence carries it off with aplomb, delivering darkly funny lines in a detached monotone that you suspect are also deeply personal and real. There are moments when it seems to mirror ‘Ballad of The Band’s infamous “Ain’t got no money, Ain’t got no fame” and that’s painful and poignant. One wonders too if Lawrence is still tied to Richard Hell’s notion that the extent to which we remain alive is determined by the extent to which we stick to the attitudes we had as teenagers. One hopes not so much, but one suspects that’s not so. Lawrence still believes in his destiny as Star but perhaps here there are suggestions of an acknowledgement that Stardom might come from what he has passed to those yet to come. Fame by proxy if you will.

Now we all know the value of repetition to Pop so I shall repeat what I said in my past and tell you that Mini-Mart is, like Back In Denim and Hot-Dog Streets, a peculiar protest record; a collection of songs that exists almost entirely within its (i.e. Lawrence’s) own carefully mythologised context. Fittingly though this is the soundtrack of protest that simultaneously colludes; is observation and implicit/explicit rejection of the mainstream absurdities that acknowledges the chip on the shoulder that says “yeah but wouldn’t it be good to be part of it?”. Locked out of the love-in. Locked in to the darkness but sprinkling glitter and poverty glam on every available surface despite it all. Because of it all.

Mini-Mart is Pop that consumes itself. There are riffs and melodies beamed in from Pop’s fast, refracted through its future. You will hear refrains that make you go ‘oh gosh that’s… what is that?… I remember… no I don’t… is that REALLY a Cliff Richard cover?.. yes it is… and what does it matter and who really cares’ and you simply slip into loving the moment even more. Because it’s infected with a past you can only-barely-can’t-even remember and a Now that’s difficult and awkward and mesmerisingly, unremittingly bleak BUT. But you have these songs and these bitter twisted jokes. Anger and envy. Desire and dejection. Shot by both sides, dancing in the deluge of despair. That’s 2018 and that’s Pop. That’s Mozart’s Mini-Mart.

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