Saturday, 10 March 2012

The Puddle: Secret Holiday/Victory Blues

It's about time The Puddle, who've paid their dues - originally on Flying Nun - with a succession of increasingly impressive albums had a gold disc to hang in their hallway. Now on New Zealand's Fishrider, who recently issued the Opposite Sex debut which has become a 6Music favourite, their time could (and really it should) be here.

Secret Holiday/Victory Blues is a great album. The only hitch in the process was the press release. The band's Ian Henderson told me: "George & I would like to be more Davies than Gallaghers. We fight over matters of principle and image, not who writes the best shite anthems. We only ever fight over totally unimportant stuff like covers and press releases." This is where yours truly stepped in and wrote the press release. The general thrust of it is:

1. The Puddle are amazing

2. Their odd pop is slightly more commercial this time around

3. You should buy it.

You just want to listen to the record? Sure:

“One teacher said he didn’t know if I’d grow up to be a genius or a madman. For a long time I thought I’d have to choose.” George D Henderson

The Puddle’s seventh album, Secret Holiday/Victory Blues, is the sum of two proposed 5-track 10” EPs recorded a year apart and pulled together as a complete unit.

This collection is Henderson’s response to 30 years of under-appreciation for their urgent psychedelia, sweet pop sentiments and garage rock undertones. A deliberately more commercial offering than previous albums, Secret Holiday/Victory Blues burns with a quiet fury.

Pitched somewhere between Julian Cope’s fried krautrock and pop, The Clean’s wayward tunes and Orange Juice’s oblique vision of a new pop future, this album features Graeme Humphreys (Able Tasmans, Humphreys & Keen) on keyboards and multi-instrumentalist Alan Starrett (Pop Art Toasters, The Bats, Mink etc.)

No could ever accuse The Puddle of making the same album twice. With Secret Holiday/Victory Blues, they’ve made two different EPs and then released them as one coherent album. What was that John Peel said about The Fall? “They are always different, they are always the same.” Read The Puddle for that ideal, too.

If there’s a constant in The Puddle’s unique, expansive outlook, it’s Henderson’s idea that “there were a few bands like Microdisney or The Smiths or Orange Juice ... I thought, `why aren't people doing this? It's great'. So I had to do it. No-one else was going to."

No one else is doing what The Puddle do: the mixture of T-Rex stomp and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd on Oh Hayley (You’re Right), for instance. Or the sadness of The Go-Betweens’ Before Hollywood and the fire of Television’s Adventure on Secret Holiday.

Whether or not Henderson’s glorious attempt at reaching for the skies and grabbing stars will give them a well-deserved 2012 hit is one thing; these songs will last. People will come round eventually.

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