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3 March 2011

Alex Chilton - 'Feudalist Tarts' (New Rose)

But by this point, I'm not sure anymore. I don't know why I allow my biases for production to colour my tastes so much. Feudalist Tarts, from 1986, is a bright and brassy Alex Chilton, a mini-LP of half covers, half originals. The A-side erupts with the nonsense of 'Tee Ne Nee Ni' before leading into the strongest track on the record, 'Stuff'. This is bold, confident 80's production, laden with saxophone solos, slicing electric guitar leads, and harmonica. It's an Ardent job, and the most self-consciously Memphis/Stax approach he's done in a long time, but it can't help but feel a bit empty. 'Stuff' is the winner because it manages to drag on into aimlessness, almost like the mood is fighting the production. I love Like Flies of Sherbert but I'm not sure about Feudalist Tarts, even though both records are clearly made by a man who has lost it. I shouldn't speak ill of the recently deceased, but I think the advantage of Sherbert is that we're thrust into the immediacy of his dissolution. By the time Tarts comes around, he's figured out what he's going to do, and he's just doing it; there's no sincerity in either, but there's also no subtlety to this record. 'Lost My Job' is the bright spot of side two, unless you really like harmonica, because he blows on 'Lost My Job' like a third-rate Dylan who's performing in a cruise ship bar. The rhythm section does retain the plodding nature of Sherbert (despite being completely different personnel) but there's too much radio-friendliness. 'Paradise' though, almost captures the singsong naiveté of #1 Record, though the half-assed ska guitar part renders the whole thing as a shitty exercise in self-parody.

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