Picture Us - Money for Rope (Cheersquad)
I can’t remember the first time I saw Money for Rope play. Probably sometime around 2010, give or take a couple of years. Wally Kempton, initially fan, then manager, now the band’s record label benefactor, was there, telling us these guys were good. Very good. He was right, of course.
There have been a few changes in the line-up since that initial sighting, maybe not on the scale of The Fall, but enough to threaten Money for Rope’s initial promise. But every time I’ve seen Money for Rope since then, they’ve been as impressive as they were that first time. Sometimes you get bands like that.
Guitarist, singer and songwriter Jules McKenzie is still there, even if Money for Rope has diminished to an irregular live presence. The musical direction is strong enough to withstand the slings and arrows of touring misfortune. They smashed it, as the kidz would say, supporting Los Chicos at the Tote. Absolutely smashed it. And Money for Rope’s belated new album, Picture Us, smashes it again.
It starts with "Hold", deep in the midst of the Velvets’ droning territory, spliced with a hint of The Doors before Jimbo’s booze-addle ego blocked out the rest of the band’s psychedelic vision. The grip is strong, you’re in, and the ceremony has begun. The grind breaks, and there’s a flash of the Black Angels redux of Apocalypse Now.
Then we get some slick groove with "Actually", reminiscent of Ground Components – remember them? – hip swivelling, pulsating and a country retreat’s worth of semi-indulgent introspection.
"Stretched My Neck" is linear rock’n’roll but it’s much more than that, dragging you down the path to Memphis powerpop if you don’t mind. With its harpsichord bounce, "O’Chelles’"dances around the edge of Hugh Cornwall’s literary bent take on punk.
"Remember My Name" is the 6am recovery song after a night of excess and psychological evaluation. Sometimes shit’s so band you don’t even want to remember your own name; but forget this track at your peril.
I’m a green tea person myself, but "Early Grey" should be just about everyone’s cup of tea. A slick backbeat, sparse melody, some Roundhouse-inspired sound effects, random references to trout fishing in the USA and a furious sonic explosion. What more could you want?
"Trashtown" kicks the can down a deserted suburban street and rants and raves like an old man desperate to find his old Ground Components records (such a good band – did I mention that already?) "Look" is Californian rock with shoes by Brian Eno, slacks by Alex Chilton and hair styled by Anton Newcombe. ‘Picture Us’ offers self-reflection through a peyote-spiked lens. Wow, man, this shit is really good.
Jules McKenzie gets all acoustic on the outro, "What Takes So Long", a bit Clinkerfield-esque, replete with the sounds of the domestic kitchen. It’s taken a long time to hear another Money for Rope album, and the wait’s worth it.