Close Lobsters – Foxheads Stalk This Land

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist

I only learned of Scottish band Close Lobsters in recent years. The Wedding Present covered them, and both acts were on the legendary C86 compilation. I finally decided to take the plunge and am very happy that I did. Close Lobsters are considerably more than just another indie pop band, capable of many moods and tones, while sticking with a consistent, core sound. The five-piece emerged around 1985 and ended up releasing three albums, though the third came out in 2020, over 30 years after the second. The story is that the band couldn’t decide between naming themselves the Close or the Lobsters, and decided not to choose at all.

What I Think of This Album

A mere ten songs is not enough to do justice to the skill and artistry of Close Lobsters. Perhaps due to the democratic tack they took as to songwriting (four different combinations of band members composed the songs), the tracks can’t be pigeonholed. Mixed in with the caffeinated bass and the bright guitars is an adventurous sense of melody and a not-insignificant penchant for psychedelia. It may be my imagination, but sometimes I think vocalist Andrew Burnett sounds a bit like the Church’s Steve Kilbey – certainly both bands share an ability to incorporate multiple ‘60s influences.

The excellently-titled “Just Too Bloody Stupid” quickly breaks free from its indie pop shackles, with the song developing in unexpected ways. Clever “Sewer Pipe Dream” doesn’t need its surprising fuzzy chorded solo in order to be great, but it certainly helps. The paisley sound of “I Kiss the Flower In Bloom” is as unmistakable as it is irresistible.

The chiming, intertwined guitars of propulsive “Pathetique” are a highlight, and their lyrical interplay on the shape-shifting “A Prophecy” is majestic. There is a cinematic quality to the enthusiastic “In Spite of These Times,” which could otherwise be an Aztec Camera song. I have no idea what a foxhead is, but the title track elides explanation and simply but sunnily offers its declaration against a bed of jangly guitars. If you don’t sing along to the “yeah yeah yeah”s on “I Take Bribes,” you need to see an audiologist right away.

The band throws one final curveball when it gets anthemic on the almost-eight minute “Mother of God,” which kicks up some hellacious noise. The drumming by Stewart McFayden is first-rate throughout, and bassist Robert Burnett (sibling to Andrew) handily leaps over questions of nepotism. The guitars of Tom Donnelly and Graeme Wilmington readily should be better known.

The album was produced by John Rivers, who has worked with Talulah Gosh, Love and Rockets, the Pastels, the Jazz Butcher, Yatsura, and the Loft.

The Best Thing About This Album

I want the spiky, crystalized rush of “Pathetique” injected into my veins right now.

Release Date

1987

The Cover Art

I dig the pink, but that’s about it. I don’t hate the other elements, but I don’t think they work very well.

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