The Southport Group

First published in the NME, Diggingthedirt has great pleasure in reprinting this syndicated review of the new self-titled album by ‘The Southport Group.’

As washed-up seaside towns go, Southport’s neither here nor there. Too down-market for blue rinse Bognor, too up-market for boozy Blackpool. Take a wrong turn, then keep on taking them for about 30 years, and you’ll almost certainly end up in Southport at an archaeological conference. It’s that kind of place.

Marvel then at ‘The Southport Group’ – named with all the imagination of a Status Quo cover band, ‘The Group’ have been causing waves on the indie scene for the last year or so, cementing their reputation as the best band you’ve never heard of with the traditional tour of student union toilets (bizarrely promoted by the band’s management as ‘workshops,’ giving the final cut a distinct light engineering flavour).

So far, so Shoreditch. But don’t let that put you off.

The new tracks on their self-titled debut album – an uplifting take on PPS5 mashed with a fearless disregard for the crumbling economy – play so out of tune with the sign of the times it’s almost punk (and as anyone who remembers the Thatcher years will tell you: we all need a bit of punk).

Take the succinctly named opening track – ‘Realising the benefits of planning-led investigation in the historic environment: a framework for delivery.’ It’s not so much a song as a Molotov cocktail: a sonic sounding stomp of cyborg funk, fused with glorifying melody touched with conscious lyrical power sent to hook you from root 2 roof-top. ‘Market Failure’ is another force of nature, with guest vocals from the London School of Economics, the heavy beats, obscuro funk and psych bits and pieces (including the entirely unexpected ‘there’s no business like no business’ sample) make this one a dead cert for 7-inch release. ‘Acronyms Decoded’ is another standout track – using computer-editing techniques that give the music a staccato, cut-up feel, it’s both timeless whilst sounding bang-up-to-date.

Rock out with your Cock out! The Southport Groupies show their apprciation for the band at one of their 'Workshops'

Unfortunately the last track on the album – ‘The vision is for historic environment investigation services that deliver maximum net value to society, that weight procurement models toward quality over price, that demand adherence to standards for person, process and product and that sustain projects that produce ‘use value’ as well as ‘existence value’’ – is a bum note in a star-spangled banner. Eerily reminiscent of Peter Gabriel’s 1991 album ‘Bullshit Bingo,’ the uplifting four-to-the-floor ‘House’ eschews the traditional sentence format in favour of something much more abstract. But the Southport Groupies (as their fans have come to be known) won’t mind that, and neither does the NME. Status Quo might well be dad-rock shite, but when the alternative play list is S Club Seven (there aint no Party like a Con-Dem Alliance Party) the Southport Group are the only show in town.

Four stars

The Southport Group – available to download from iTunes HERE…

One comment

  1. Lad on a lunch break says:

    I’m getting ‘market failure is another force of nature’ tattooed on my arse. Back on form Diggin – bloody brilliant. Go crazy more often..

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