Little Man Tate - About What You Know (V2)
16 Dec 2006
if there's one shadow it'll be hard to step out of, it's the one cast by the arctic monkeys. good luck, and nice first attempt, little man tate...; release - '06
These days it's alleged that you have to fit into either a Libertines or Arctic Monkeys box and merely make alterations on these pre-packaged career routes... and sadly Little Man Tate are an example of somebody following the tracks of the latter of these prototypes. However, coming from the same bass-grinding city of Sheffield as the now infamously overrated aforementioned group, you can forgive them for a not too dissimilar sound, but to be honest, this is the album that I wished Arctic Monkeys had released.
It's always unfair to compare a band to their nearest rivals and no doubt Jon Windle and co. will have to get used to it (if they aren't already), but what's great is that despite lacking a wee bit of originality, they're possibly the best at what they do. Having seen both bands play to varying crowds it's patent to see that LMT are easily the victor in a live setting and that transcends all too well onto the soundtrack of their debut album, making it a rising peoples favourite.
Yes, there's still not that much ingenuity to it but the way you have to look at it is if you can do something that works, and darn well at that, then what's the feckin' problem? Not every band will reinvent the wheel, they just won't, dammit. All we can do is hope that once every now and again a band comes along that instead of trying to be controversial and modish just makes music they believe in and enjoy playing, and in this case, the crowds love hearing. 'About What You Know' is a brilliant album that gets better the more you hear it, and as the hooks crack away and dissolve into a medley worthy of anybodies tenner it's all too easy to get swept away in the enchantment of trails like 'European Lover' and the almost Thin Lizzy-like 'Sexy In Latin'.
A nice touch on the album is opening track 'Man I Hate Your Band', an intrepid title, and something that you'd only use if secure enough it's not going to be thrown back at you. You could see journalists' eyes light up when they saw this land on their doormats but within seconds of the blinding album icebreaker you're addicted. Anything that follows the industry-insider narrated bombardment of seductive guitars and witty lines can only be taken as half hearted, which is part of the appeal that LMT have. Too serious to be pop and border lining on too frisky to be rock 'n' roll, you'd think that this would struggle to find its fanbase by being either shunted by the cool crowd or ignored by the teenyboppers, yet brilliantly it's fit in between all the proverbial and political pigeonholing bollocks of the industry and finds its place quite nicely across a spectrum of record collections.
Elsewhere, 'This Must be Love' smells more like The Monkees than anything of the Arctic persuasion and puts some Weller-esque vocals into a recognizably kitsch parcel of connected and credible contemporary poetry that in a laddish Brit way is relatively sweet. 'House Party At Boothys' sees another one of these unambiguous Thin Lizzy licks ruling the quintessential Little Man Tate anthem. With lines like, "Things are going well and it's quite an occasion/ its winner stays on, on the Sony Playstation/ somebody's thrown up on the path/ Balco's passed out in the bath", it's easy to see who their aiming at with an ungraceful rant of the modern drinking twenty something, and when these guys do it you feel as though it's the first time anybody's truly spoken for this demographic.
Other highlights include the roughly droll 'Court Report', which is probably the best song about a cross dresser in history and features more of these one line gags, "gets home switches on the news/ kicks back in his high heeled shoes / switches channel to EastEnders / cleans his house in his red suspenders", that leave you wondering if you actually heard what you thought you did. There are some viciously artistic nuances throughout the 10 tracks of flamboyant and agreeable escapades into sub-culture living and although it's not pushing the boat out as far as inventiveness goes it's doing something else, something more than a novelty uniqueness; it's taking a sound we're familiar with and transforming it into a bastardised spin off that contentedly confounds the ears.
'About What You Know' provokes some deeply buried memories of when you used to gather your friends around and muck around on guitars, and at last somebody's had the bottle to put it out there on record for the world to share (or have twos on) and enjoy. You can instantly identify and appreciate what LTM are about without having to read through the lyrics over and over trying to piece together the veiled meanings and double entendres of their work and can lie around in the instantly satisfying world of lively and enthralling music that gets better and better the more it bleeps out of your iPod. Plausibly this is going to be one of those love-it or hate-it albums for the very reasons mentioned here and for everyone that doesn't see past the simplicity there'll be somebody else basking in the wonder of one of the most musically fulfilling bands of the next year.