Mekons 'Deserted' LP
The return of one of the planet’s most essential rock & roll bands.
Their new album was recorded in the desert environs of Joshua Tree, California and is drenched with widescreen, barbed-wire atmosphere and hard-earned (but ever amused) defiance.
When punk exploded in London, fast and brash and full of fury, up in Leeds the Mekons came blinking into the light at a much slower pace. Singles like “Where Were You” and “Never Been in a Riot” (both from1978) fractured punk’s outlaw myth with the ordinariness of real life. During the next decade, as country singers donned cowboy hats and slid into the stadiums, the Mekons celebrated the music’s rough, raw beginnings and tender hearts with the Fear and Whiskey album (1985) and went on to demolish rock narratives with Mekons Rock’n’Roll (1989). For more than four decades they’ve been a constant contradiction, an ongoing art project of observation, anger and compassion, all neatly summed up in the movie Revenge of the Mekons, which has ironically brought an upsurge in their popularity around the US as new audiences discovers their shambling splendour. And now the caravan continues with Deserted, their first full studio album in eight years.
And desert is an apt word. This time there’s an emphasis on texture and sounds, a sense of space that brings a new, widescreen feel to their music, opening up songs that surge like clarion calls, like the album’s opening track, “Lawrence of California.” The band arrived with no songs written, only a few ideas exchanged by email between Jon Langford and Tom Greenhalgh, the group’s other original member.
Five days of brilliant chaos let their thoughts run free, from the almost-folk wonder of “How Many Stars” and the wide open space of “In The Desert,” to the oblique strangeness of “Harar 1883,” a song about French poet Arthur Rimbaud’s time in Ethiopia, inspired by photographs Greenhalgh has of the period.
“There’s never been a band quite like the Mekons. Unmarred by breakups or breakouts, undefined by genre, geography, or ego-trips...no rock outfit’s ever been this committed to behaving like a true band, with all the equanimity and familial bonding implied.” – Rolling Stone
Catalogue number: GBLP069