Southend continues its cultural sea change
Southend: famous the world over for its international standards of chain-pub karaoke, arcade machines so old they’re protected by the National Trust and legions of day-tripping Essex thrill-seekers riding along the coastline on a gigantic inflatable turd. And now the epicentre of new music. First it gave us The Horrors, but we can forgive it that with the emergence of Switches, aka one Matt Bishop – a man who allegedly spent his teenage years obsessively devouring all of his friends’ favourite albums, from Blur to Beefheart to Bacharach to Backstreet Boys, in search of the mythical Secret Of Rock.
This has left him with a rare and admirable case of Eclecticbanditis. Switches’ first release, the ‘Message From Yuz’ EP, took in glam stomping, Supergrassic falsetto rock, Strokesy neo-wave and, um, a song that sounded like Nilsson’s ‘Without You’ being trampled beneath a stampede of android-Fonzes. And now, on ‘Lay Down The Law’, we find them synthing-up Blur’s ‘Girls & Boys’ for the post-Franz generation, led by Matt sounding (in the verses) as sultry as Kapranos in a Swedish sauna and (in the chorus) like Adam Ant going psycho in the ‘Prince Charming’ video. As much fun as burying your sleeping granny in the sand; as much cheesy satisfaction as hearing a one-armed bandit thunk out a 10-quid jackpot in 2ps.