½ dove – ½ pigeon is the debut album from art-punk combo Micko & The Mellotronics.
Release Date: 27th November 2020
Label: Landline Records
Formats: CD / LP / Digital
½ dove – ½ pigeon is the debut album from art-punk combo Micko & The Mellotronics. Who are they? Well… Micko is Micko Westmoreland, the Leeds-born polymath who has exercised his talents in such fields as acting and soundtrack creation, as well as in music. ½ dove – ½ pigeon is the fifth album that bears his name, and during his acting career he has worked with names such as Paul Putner and Susy Kane and played a starring role in the cult ’90’s movie Velvet Goldmine. Backing band The Mellotronics formed in 2017 and comprise Nick Mackay on drums, Vicky Carroll on bass and ex-Banshee Jon Klein on guitar. Their music is what I’d describe as ‘intelligent punk’, loud, brash but very tight and adeptly played and featuring passages, particularly guitar solos, that venture into often unanticipated places. It’s great to listen to.
And the lyrics – they’re described as being “Packed with Jarvis-esque quips, wry humour and a gleeful sense of experimentation…that take us into Micko Westmoreland’s idiosyncratic mind.” That’s putting it mildly – this whole album is an exercise in idiosyncrasy and, overall, sounds like the Bonzos have been shuffled together with The Banshees. The other closest comparison I can offer is probably Half Man Half Biscuit. Micko is proud to suggest that [“the album] leaves convention and commonality at the door; it’s a record that knows not to take itself too seriously, but it has a point.” And that sums up the whole thing perfectly.
Micko chose the album’s title because (tongue in cheek, possibly…) he believes that ½ dove – ½ pigeon reflects how most people see themselves! That statement, in itself, gives an indication of the eccentricity and quirkiness of the songs’ contents. And to add emphasis to that theory, Side One of the album is titled ½ dove and Side two is, of course, ½ pigeon.
Opening track Noisy Neighbours sets the scene for the fun to come; it’s loud, brash and punky with an impassioned vocal and with a whole load of interesting things going on. It’s punchy and to the point, and that’s the theme for the whole album. Psychedelic shirt is a fun piece of psycho-punk with a compulsive descending guitar riff and a great lyric – as is the case with The Finger, a song about “Not giving a shit,” and containing some lovely chunky, twangy lines from guest Horace Panter. The late, great Neil Innes features on You Killed My Father, perhaps the album’s mellowest cut (and here, I must warn that everything’s relative – don’t expect Sketches of Spain…). Side One of the album ends with Imelda, a wonderful, punky swipe at the former Filipino dictator, Imelda Marcos and does, of course, make reference to that lady’s infamous shopping spree obsession.
Side two opens where side one left off, with the loud, heavy and riffy Sick and Tired. Again featuring Horace Panter, this is basically a song about boredom and contains a wonderful line about a formerly quiet restaurant that is now more noted for its patrons’ liking for “flicking food and smashing plates.” Brilliant!
The Fear is probably the funniest, most interesting and most accessible song on the album. It’s apparently a philosophical fantasy about the work of eminent psychologist Georg Eifert. Opening with a creaking door effect, achieved by scraping a guitar (or violin) string, and with a lyric that refers to the creatures under the bed and in the wardrobe, it’s a surprisingly melodic piece of baroque music with some excellent contributions on violin and horns from guests Terry Edwards and Dylan Bates. Halcyon Days, the album’s closing track, is packed with looping bass lines, jangly guitars, a seriously riff-laden chorus and lyrics concerning life imitating art in New York City. It’s a deliciously quirky ending to a deliciously quirky album.
This is a fascinating piece of work. It’s fun, challenging, entertaining and the music is performed with enthusiasm and no little ability. It is, perhaps, a pity that the brilliant lyrics are, occasionally, lost in the mix. They’re a key feature of the album and they deserve to be heard but that’s nothing that the inclusion of a lyric sheet wouldn’t put right.
Watch Micko & The Mellotronics official video for Noisy Neighbours from the album here: