If you ever been in a frosty air-conditioned room and then walked outside into 80% humidity, the blast of super-hot water vapour that hits you is what listening to Thee MVPs felt like to me. Charlie Wyatt, Edd Wilding, Joel Currie and George Rothman bring their infectious take on garage-rock, punk/new wave to bear on Science Fiction. I asked to review the Science Fiction having heard a few tracks but was still unprepared for the full force of their sound. Opening track ‘Ship Episode, Planet Episode’ manages to jam acres of sonic goodness into 4’ 15” of searing riffs, waves of chords and rubble-inducing drums. It’s like opening a cupboard so full of goods that you get showered with the contents.
Song after song you get a brief pause to catch your breath before another arc of MVP-voltage sends another jolt through you: the keepie-uppie twang of ‘Causality’, the violent call and response of ‘A Song for Councillor’ (with a super-catchy vocal round of “Bah, ba-ba-ba-bah”s throughout), ‘You Ain’t It’ with one of my favourite rock tropes of guitar and bass doubling up the riff. And then ‘HAL’ with its slow, insistent pace and hypnotic tune, like a psychedelic Jim Morrison oasis in the middle of the album. But after being fed and watered it’s back on the MVP Juggernaut smashing through more blockades with the lissom, dark and light catchiness of ‘SESH’, the atonal clang and descending tune of ‘Super Contactable’ (which comes off like the Beatles do ‘Sound of the Suburbs’). ‘A Pining Replicant’ is a downhill racer with a stop/start pre-chorus that feels like hitting every stone on the way down the hill before the smooth surface of the chorus. ‘Funeral i and iii’ mixes rhythms with juddering chords, half-time passages and low-riding bass and then the album ends with ‘US Airways (Final Flight)’ an epic 7 minutes of hurricane winds, wig out swirls and a final 3 minutes that would leave an audience sweaty and baying for encores.
Science Fiction was recorded in a matter of days and this seems like a smart move if it was responsible for the energy that crackles from every fibre of its 10 tracks. When you think songs are going to come off the road and descend into a chaotic stew there’s a riff or drum fill to pull everything back from the brink and reward the ear with a sweet treat. Science Fiction is wry, spry, and induces a stratospheric high. Vocals shout and sing and easily match the power of the backing. An album called Science Fiction is unsurprisingly peppered with sci-fi references. In addition to the song titles themselves we get “Live long and prosper” at the end of ‘Ship Episode, Planet Episode’ a DeLorean mention in ‘Causality’ and the track HAL (as in HAL 9000, the computer in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey) quotes from the song ‘Daisy Bell’ which, in 1961, IBM programmed into their 7094 making it the first computer to sing.
Thee MVPs combine the first-time-out anger/humour of older bands like The Members, Sham 69 (or even further back with the swagger of bands like MC5) with the modern anger/power of Sleaford Mods or Here Lies Man. Thee MVPs are using the past, and their peers, as influences and definitely not copying someone else’s homework. Wearing a red jersey or not I am happy to join them on an away mission and I hope this album brings new life and new civilisations for Thee MVPs to explore. Recognition and success? Make it so!
Science Fiction is released on Eeasy Records and if you’re lucky you might still get a Dinked vinyl edition of the album at Drift Records
Album review by Paul F Cook