The Astronauts

It's All Done By Mirrors
The Astronauts
It's All Done By Mirrors

What a way to start the year. This LP of bittersweet, off-me'ead, existential hippy-punk by The Astronauts, originally released in '83 and reissued here by LVEUM, is precisely the thing to restore your faith in humanity and repair your tattered sense of self (hello, January). A life-affirming, parallel-universe pop masterpiece which has become a cult/freak favourite over the years, vouched for by fans of whimsical English psych, free music and, more improbably, peace-punk. Lol Coxhill plays sax on three tracks. It's almost too good to be true. Supposedly Ray Davies never touched acid - but what if he had? Instead of Village Green Preservation Society we might’ve got something like It’s All Done By Mirrors: a ranting and raving requiem for a beautiful flawed Albion that has vanished - if it ever existed - or at least lost its marbles, now scared of its own reflection and likely to be found wondering the fruit & veg section of Morrisons with a blank expression on its face, dried spittle at the corner of its mouth, and no shoes on. As ever, the scalpel of Mark Astronaut's genius flashes brightest and cuts deepest in his most tender ballads: the perfectly melancholic ‘Typical English Day’ and ‘Fatigue’, the zonked folk-rock epic ‘Day To Day’ (the shambling elegance of the arrangements echoing Coxhill's work with Kevin Ayers in The Whole World) ...if these songs don’t bring salt tears to your eyes, there's something deeply wrong with you. The lyrics are on another level, dreamy and mad and meticulous, Mark coming over like some kind of chatterbox Barrett/Betjeman hybrid with a drop of Officer!'s Mick Hobbs and Deep Freeze Mice's Alan Jenkins in there…the sound of a mind unravelling in an allotment shed, a very English despair: romantic and self-deprecating and hopelessly spangled. "I take a few drugs because I feel like the kick / and I smash up the room till I make myself sick / and it’s a laugh, not a grin -/ ‘What a nutter!’ they say, / ‘It’s part of the act though, he’s really OK.” 

 

 

£12.99