Spearmint – The Water Rats, London
*Uproarious entertainment* The New York Times
*Better than Watergate* The Washington Post
*Exquisite and emotional* Oprah Winfrey
*Perfectious purveyors of pop bliss-outs and chanson d’amours* Cultural Cache magazine
*Life-affirming treatises on the pitfalls of living (or not)* Anne Widdicombe, Brexit Party
Spearmint’s new long-player ‘Are you from the future?’ deserves all its plaudits, its 12 songs a welcome balm for these tempestuous times of tumult and turmoil. Aired live the songs take on new forms, new contexts with greater, more profound meaning. Main man Shirley Lee is an effervescent engaging presence, rapier wit flows forth, a born raconteur both in and out of song. As sardonically sharp as Half Man Half Biscuit, as bookish and literate as the British Library, it’s scandalous they’re not more renowned. The rest of the group, Ronan, Jim and Si, are a tight unit, this a band of demotic democracy.
The group were famously canonised, enshrined and indiefied by their mention in the ‘boy-meets-girl rom-coming-of-age-dramedy’ ‘(500) Days of Summer’ where the main male character whines “It pains me we live in a world where nobody’s heard of Spearmint”. What’s your excuse? There is none now.
Stellar support comes from Piney Gir, Kansa, USA’s very own pop polymath with an eclectic set that (dis)covers country rock and dewy-eyed doo-wop that thankfully avoided the perilous side of twee.
The group’s outstanding new album gets a full-on, all-out airing, displaying evidence that great songs can become even greater through different contexts. ‘Fireflies’ in particular is enhanced by Lee’s remembering of a misremembrance that he is unsure if he hasn’t unconsciously memorialised via mediated memories. Never has the fallibility of memory been so deftly delivered.
‘Senseless’ is a superlative piece of art; metaphysical, metaphorical, meta-poetical, and above all magical. The finest ‘could-it-be-I’m-falling-in-love’ song this (or any) year.
2001’s perennially beatific ‘Scottish Pop’ is still the greatest song to detail love and affection for the Tartan tunesmiths – ‘Edwyn C, Adventures in Stereo, Emma P’ – their glorious head rushing poptimism akin to the feeling of lust>love ignited by connective chemistry and features the ever-striking sophistic line ‘Anticipation is worth the wait’.
Famously encore averse, their stance is a breath of fresh air amongst the plastic pasticheurs and egonomic exhibitors. Humility is key.
The final word must got to William James, philosopher and psychologist “To know an object is to lead to it through a context which the world provides”.
And that’s what Spearmint do. With ease.