Sunday, 3 November 2013

Schnauser - Where Business Meets Fashion


Bristolian Prog-poppers' third album!


Prog-influenced music gets a raw deal. Not aided by the fact that in the mid '70s the genre became overblown and bloated, characterised by extended solos, costume changes, money-losing stage designs and even an ice-rink! However its main crime was that it took itself too seriously.

Thirty years on, here's Schnauser, a Bristolian quartet whose music claws back some credibility for all things Prog, as well injecting it with a welcome sense of humour and fun. Though they might have passed under your radar before, this is actually the band's third album, their first since 2010's The Sound Of Meat.

With witty and knowing songwriting which covers such subjects as the hapless love-life of early computer gamers (Good Looking Boy, which comes complete with the sound of a Spetrum ZX81 loading from a cassette), tedious and predictable conversations (Dinner Party), and uncomfortable social situations (Large Groups Of Men), the band mine a reach seam of modern suburban anxiety. It's like Abigail's Party re-imagined as a concept album and performed by Kevin Ayers.

The Prog tag actually does Schnauser a dis-service. This is Pop music! Pop in the best possible sense, in that it's equally indebted to melodic masters as Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson as it is to Prog virtuoso musicians. Catchy, purposeful, subversive and fun. For each prog-rock twist, turn and trapping there's an equally attuned ear for melody. And despite the album's title it's neither business-like or slavishly fashionable and is all the better for that.