And Also The Trees
f you happen to know one fairly useless fact about And Also The Trees, it’s probably that their self-titled debut was produced by Lol Tolhurst (of Cure and coloured guidance stickers on keyboards fame). This could result in the mistaken impression that the two bands are in some way similar in sound, but aside from a passing love of spookiness and occasional flanged guitars this is not really the case. Were the infamous romantic junkie poets from Blackadder III suddenly to develop an obsession with the great British countryside and/or Morris Dancing they might have thought about pursuing some musical endeavours equivalent to those of And Also The Trees.
Which is, I suppose, a roundabout way of saying that (like the best records touched by darkness) none of this should be taken too seriously. Because however seriously you take it, you’re still listening to tracks being performed by people dressed as powdered 19th Century fops. Find the right mindset, though, and there are some gems to be plundered from this retrospective ‘best of’ collection.
The songs have been merrily jumbled up into a mockery of chronology, but this was clearly an informed decision as there are no particularly jarring moments. Despite a brief foray into the sound of 50’s beat clubs and a light flirtation with jazz instrumentation, the atmosphere remains stoically consistent throughout. In part this must be down to Simon Huw Jones’ distinct delivery style; half spoken, half emotive--all theatre. On “Macbeth’s Head” it is almost as if Jones is channelling the bloodied spirit of Banquo himself, taunting the guilt-wracked murderer to a fated grave. Except the production is one of pantomime and careering dangerously out of control toward levels of high camp. You can either hop on board for the ride, or get crushed.
In truth, whether any of this is going to be ‘your sort of thing’ or not can largely be determined with this simple test; the abandoned site of a medieval village ravaged by the black death is:
(a) Perfect for a secondary school history project.If, like all decent and true persons, you chose option (c), you’re well on the way to enjoying the sweeping romanticism of “Red Valentino” and the anguished lament for lost love that is “Gone ... Like The Swallows.” You’ll also get a kick out of the downright creepy “Prince Rupert” and wallow in the hopeless (and strangely Spaghetti Western influenced) “Shaletown.” That you will appreciate the smattering of piano on “Dialogue” and the streaks of trumpet, which bubble through basslines akin to the footsteps of wandering lost children, is without question.
(b) Some fields, probably.
(c) Excellent material for flouncing dandies with guitars.
So grab a ruffled shirt, adopt a simpering pre-Raphaelite pose and dream of the day when you’ll be lucky enough to be dying from consumption. This shall be your soundtrack.