McAlmont & Butler : Bring It Back

....whatever they do best, they do best together...

It’s worth remembering just how much David McAlmont and Bernard Butler really hated each other seven years ago. Having had a massive collaborative hit with the awesome ‘Yes’ and a more modest one with the more modest ‘You Do’, the former Thieves singer and the former Suede guitarist parted company with the air around them blue with criss-crossing abuse.

However, with the bad memories fading – and the fact that both Dave and Bernie’s solo careers have long since hit the iceberg in the frozen North Atlantic of the post-britpop years – they’re back.

The usual amiable PR bullshit pack does its best to paper over the cracks, as Butler suddenly picks up the phone to call McAlmont after six years of awkward silence to invite him back into the studio. But whether his motivation in doing so was really because “he’d been writing songs David McAlmont had to sing” is a moot point. And in fairness, for the best bits of ‘Bring It Back’, it’s not even important.

For just as ‘Yes’ provided the hitherto unfeasible link between white bread indie and Shirley Bassey torch singing – and brazenly flicked the rods at Butler’s former Suede collaborator Brett Anderson in the process – the best bits of McAlmont And Butler part two are, in their unlikely way, very fine indeed.

As the self-mythologising opening track ‘Theme From’ demonstrates, with the passing of time, McAlmont sounds several times more like seventies falsetto soul genius Curtis Mayfield than Mayfield ever did himself.

The best, however, is yet to come. ‘Falling’ – the thinly veiled ‘Yes’ mark II – has much of the fist waving bravado of its predecessor and if anything, surefire next single ‘Different Strokes’ is even better than that – an intricately woven little southern soul pastiche with a chorus the size of East Anglia.

It’s possibly telling that they could only stand each other’s company for ten tracks worth of action for ‘Bring It Back’, and reasonably reassuring that the last five of them are fairly forgettable anyway. An unhappy reminder for both McAlmont and Butler that whatever they do best, they do best together, but there’s no denying that, in the correct combination, as someone famous once sung: “It’s like electricity.”

Now who could that have been?

Jim Wirth