Limited vinyl pressing of Never's self-titled debut...not only one of the finest Jolly Discs tapes so far, but also one of the great subterranean pop albums (or mini-album...whatever) of recent times. It's a collaboration between vocalist/songwriter Sam Bardsley and JD co-founder Guy Gormley (aka Enchante, one half of Special Occasion and, with Thomas Bush, RAP), and it's a work of exquisitely rained-on, self-effacing but perfectly soundsystem-savvy UK blooz. The songs are great, simultaneously wide-eyed and world-weary, and inseparable from the crazily on-point production: with its ultra-dubbed, chicken-scratch guitar phrasings and opaque, crispy computer riddims, there are echoes of On-U's weirder missions, YMO, Dennis Bovell's work with Orange Juice, Sleng Teng hiding under the bedclothes and living off Ginsters. Echoes too of 90s UK indie's reckoning with acid's extended-mix madness, the days when gratuitously expansive 12" versions were routinely commissioned by Creation, Heavenly et al. The difference is that these tracks, rather than taking seven minutes to get going, do the job in two or three.
Hard to pick a favourite...the dub-me-crazy 'Agnes' and 'Everybody Knows' are contenders but 'The Park' takes the biscuit: a classic of acute paranoia in municipal space, coming over like New Order flayed down to the bone, or Arthur Russell if he was alive and well and sleeping rough in suburban Cardiff.
Just so, so good… just when you think everyone making music is a solipsistic potato incapable of original thought or action, along comes something as eccentric and accomplished yet humble and SOULFUL as this. As life-affirming as those first puny rays of Spring sunshine.