Modern Classics

Finally, the slumbering midget that is the Portsmouth music scene joins the party....

FINALLY, THE SLUMBERING midget that is the Portsmouth music scene joins the party. Hometown heroes for some time, Screeper have managed something that nearly all Pompey’s other noteworthy bands – and you could count all of them on a fish finger – have failed to do. They’ve released an album. What’s more, it’s quite good.

Sampling Beefheart, cult TV and obscure films and with singer David Jones’ faltering falsetto almost passing for McAlmont, they fantasise about articulating the dreams of small-town misfits everywhere. Brian Jones, Ian Curtis, Morrissey: these are their heroes. They sound nothing like any of them.

Because, true to form for a late-’90s indie band, there’s always been a dance element to their music. Albeit a resolutely lo-fi one, that’s not so much dance music made [I]in[/I] a bedsit, as [I]for[/I] one. It can be fine – the hypnotic shuffle of ‘Can Fever’, the pharmaceutical banjo excess of ‘Heppen Harla’ – but it can also sound like Dreadzone, or result in rinky-dink post-Shamenisms.

Hopelessly naive it might be, but ‘English Meltdown’ is still the best album ever by a Portsmouth band. That’s not saying much, but at least it’s saying more than The Cranes.