Album Review: Smith & Burrows – ‘Funny Looking Angels’

Let's not blame Christmas for this kind of crap

Every family has its Christmas tradition. Round ours it’s poring over the arrival of cringe-worthy Round Robin letters; last year one of my mum’s school friends wrote of their “12ft Christmas tree in the atrium” and the hardship of “replacing all 41 windows on the house”.

The Christmas album can risk being a sonic Round Robin, of interest to few but its creators, dispossessed of all perspective as they’ve mired themselves deep in their icky, cosy world. [a]Editors[/a]’ Tom Smith and Borrell’s ex Andy Burrows’ seasonal effort is this year’s most egregious offender, a mistake that makes [a]Editors[/a]’ three albums look like good ideas.

The er, best bits are Burrows’ ‘As The Snowflakes Fall’ – [a]Badly Drawn Boy[/a] trying to remember the lyrics to ‘Fairytale Of New York’ – and the stalling title track, in which Burrows intones, “It’s in my pocket/You can have it if I got it”. Is that a yule log or… just kill me now.

However, it’s Smith’s songs that hit hardest. “Goddamn this snow/Will I ever get where I wanna go?” he moos over a clonking old Joanna on ‘When The Thames Froze’, as if searching for existential succor on RAC Routefinder. After rhymes about the COLD making him feel OLD he exclaims: “Goddamn this government/Will they ever tell me where the money went?” Yeah man, politicians are well bad. ‘This Ain’t New Jersey’ tries for [a]REM[/a]’s ‘Nightswimming’, but lands at a Chris Martin/Bono circlejerk, and is ostensibly about Smith and Edith having a barney over what film to watch on Christmas Eve.

I could go on, but now’s a time for charity. This album is clearly meant to be a miserable foil to the season’s gaudy cheer, but when Low’s gloriously melancholy ‘Christmas’ exists and you can only produce an album that makes the sound of cattle lowing sound appealing, it’s hardly worth writing home about.

Laura Snapes