The Eisenhowers – Nudge Unit Blues : Album Review

Glasgow post-punk polemicist, Raymond Weir, is angry…..The Eisenhowers release Nudge Unit Blues.

Release date: 1st September 2023

Label: Waste of Point

Format: CD / Digital

The themes explored on ‘Nudge Unit Blues’ are fear, control, corruption, paranoia, superstition and abuse of power. So says Raymond Weir, the beating heart of this world famous in Glasgow institution, before disparagingly adding that he can’t think why anyone could be drawn to write anything much about those subjects in this day and age.

Such archness may not be typical of the earlier albums under the Eisenhower flag, this being, I think, number four, but is very much the cup of vinegar of at least one of the identifiable influences, influence spotting being but one part of this deliciously sour record. This album is so clearly in debt to the vogue of skinny tie merchants circa 1978 – 1984 as to be a virtual primer of New Wave. And this is a good thing, running with the ideas, rather than slavishly replicating.

A swirl of keys and some dancing bass introduces Anaesthetised, the first song, a few moments before it finds the steadiness of rhythm than thence propels the song. With a slight echo to the vocal, and a slight feel of Joe Jackson, it is a paean , a plea, really, to waking up. “We’re all hooked up to stuff we think could mean something”, sings Weir, ahead of bludgeoning the truth through our sedation. The drums help bang the message across, they courtesy Les Barret, the lyrical bass from Fraser Sneddon, with most else the instrumentation Weir’s own. On this track and one other, later, extra guitar comes from Peter McAteer, this song graced also with some backing vocals from Anna Chambers. The song cumulatively creeps up on you, an alarm call, an antidote, with the “start waking up” chorus repeated to the fade.

National Anthem then has a clackety disruptive rhythm, over a similarly disruptive message, a cynical call to an ironic and unmeant apathy. Yup, it is supposed to disturb the peace, a song that wouldn’t disgrace an earlier and angrier Declan Aloysius McManus. The foreboding keyboard riff and prodding bass add further discomfort. Some public service announcements buoy further the momentum, a bridge to a the sort of key change that can shiver the spine. “Compassion has been weaponised”. Ouch.

Does the title The Saved And The Sinful now offer any hope, might you wonder, and no, this is neither the moment for Weir to expose a soft white underbelly of flippant avoidance. A commentary, I think, on the media, and with a less 80’s production I could see this song in the hands of Joe Strummer, or, again, Costello. (Three songs and three distinct references? Fret not and read again that first paragraph.) Panel Show Prince slows slightly the vitriol, an atmospheric construction, sung in the first person. Again the words hit a spot well recognised: “Stay in your lane, stay in your lane, we’re just here to entertain”. Once again, the bass offers almost the lead and the direction of flow, as it does, once the cries of the mob dissipate for Build A Bonfire. Which invites, of course, for whom? A slightly dreamy feel occupies this one, at least in the build to the clear instruction offered. When quarantine and disease get a mention in the lyrics, little doubt is left as to whom we should be burning. And I don’t disagree. The keyboard decorative swathes are the smoke needed to justify the fire.

An appealingly bombastic approach fits well the cautiously optimistic call to arms of Maybe You Should Drive. The echo for the second track of vocals and the distant ghostly chorale give off some suitably spooky notes. More E.C. than ever, with the lines swapping channel between right and left, Ugly Showbiz follows and is a cracking song, the acerbic acidity well up to the par of that benchmark, as are the nearly rhymes of the chorus, a thing of no small delight. Moving back a few years, the frantic keys and falling downstairs drums of Muzzle Up come as a slight surprise, the odd bleep of electronica the only contemporary touch. Raymond is still angry, his voice seeming to come through a megaphone.

A slight change in timbre permeates the elegaic spectral melodicism of Sleepwalker, the double tracked vocal now channeling mid to late period Bowie, Ashes To Ashes, say, the tune and arrangement equally applicable to the Dame. This is a lovely song, a favourite, if still darkly prescient. That same melodicism leaks into President Again Is President Again, a Peter McAteer guitar solo a neat touch to break the building thrust of the message, Weir now moulding his influences into a Bowie/Costello amalgam, with orchestral touches. I have just noted that Weir himself also acknowledges the Kinks onto his palette, and he’s not wrong, However, I would challenge any of these aforementioned to come up with an opening line as evocative as “Amid the blether and the babble”, a final song, perhaps of acceptance or, at least, understanding, as the storm unfolds. Bizarrely, it is Procol Harum I here hear, with a hint of Gary Brooker in Weir’s straining higher register. A tremendous closer, When You See Me And I See You, it allows for the hope of and in humanity to get us all through, with Chambers’ harmonies an embodiment of all that.

From what I understand, Weir does this because he has to, not because he has to, should that make any sense. Vocation, maybe, and maybe destined on deaf ears. But he has a voice and he has a point. Will we hear him?

Try Sleepwalker for size:

The Eisenhowers: Facebook / Twitter / Blogspot

If you would like to keep up with At The Barrier, you can like us on Facebook here, follow us on Twitter here, and follow us on Instagram here. We really appreciate all your support.

Categories: Uncategorised

Tagged as: ,

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.