It's odd but strangely delightful to witness major players on the Twee Indie scene of the late Eighties mature into middle age more than thirty years on like a fine wine. Such is the case here with The Catenary Wires latest album Birling Gap.
Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey once figured in spindly Indie outfits such as Tallulah Gosh, Heavenly and Tender Trap. But it's interesting to see where their journey has taken them. This is a record that has a much in common with Sandy Denny as it does with Orange Juice and that's just as it should be.
The sleeve of the album is an immediate giveaway to the record's intentions. It's a photograph of steep chalk cliffs and the waves crashing into a pebbled beach. An incredibly English image and this is an incredibly English sounding record, owing something to The Kinks and The Zombies as well as Tracy Thorn.
On Mirrorball Fletcher and Pursey reminicise about where it all started in an Eighties disco on the cusp of adulthood. It's all incredibly sweet and not for a moment the bitter variety.The past is where it should be, a happy and incredibly distant memory, not the stuff of anguish and regret. Birling Gap is like leafing through a treasured photo album but its feet are very much mired in the here and now.
The album gallops along. In its own words, 'as English as the weather.' Safe and warm, comfortable in its own skin. Fletcher and Pursey have learned enough over the years not to make their harmonies pitch perfect. It's the slightly off key nature of proceedings that provide the essential charm to this project.
A home counties Nancy and Lee but with incisive political awareness to boot, cuttingly critical of the much evident English intolerance of these times . Birling Gap is a treat, like a well stirred pot and plate of scones and jam in a village tea room on a sunny afternoon.