Song of the day – 213: La Mômo
I once wrote of this bunch that they’re “Worthing’s answer to the delicate, frayed English pop of Robert Wyatt – only shaken up and down, given a good stomping and bashed about gleefully”. It still seems a fair description.
Disclaimer: these are my mates. Explanation: these are my mates because I liked the band they were playing in (La Mômo). Disclaimer: Chris (one-half of La Mômo) used to play on stage in improvisational outfits with me, in and around Brighton – one particular memorable night, supporting Misty’s Big Adventure with him on saxophone, me on vocals (nothing else). Another memorable night, with regular co-conspirator Noah Taylor – in support of Holly Golightly, the final show that Noah and Emily’s kid heard from inside the womb. Another night, in front of a crowd composing Nick Cave, Jack Sargeant and a hen party, me declaiming that “I interviewed John Sinclair earlier tonight, and I said ‘Thanks for ruining rock’n’roll motherfucker'” – or was that the time that Cave and Shane MacGowan were slow-dancing to ‘I Want To Fuck (A Man With A Beard)’? Whatever. There were a lot of nights, you understand.
You can hear some of this stuff on MySpace. Or perhaps not? I’m not sure we recorded much of it, beyond that one Television Personalities tribute single that came out of the first night me and Chris played together.
Sorry, back to the main course. La Mômo. Chris sent me over a brace of new songs (Sadie singing, of course) the other day, remarking that La Mômo are now a two-piece, and – what the hell. I still love ’em. Suburban relapse and suburban romance and vocal harmonies that sound like trumpets calling and a Krautrock beat, and that slight edge. (Shrugs.) Of course I still love this music. Why wouldn’t I? La Mômo understand the importance of Yoko Ono, and they understand the dynamism of Pete And The Pirates, and they rock. Pure and simple. They rock. The following is a right corking tune.
Here’s what I wrote about them for Careless Talk Costs Lives, in those dim and desperate days of yesteryear (2003), before we were mates pretty much.
Careless Talk Costs Lives @ The Albert, Brighton
Girl stands stage-front. In front of her is a big bass drum, adorned with the words “La Mômo”. She bangs it, occasionally. Mostly when the music becomes more tribal, intense. It’s very effective. Stand-up drummers have presence, always did, even Bobby G – especially Bobby G (and the Shop Assistants). She sways gently. There’s no breeze. Hair cascades down.
Voice and manner vaguely recall Mary Lorson, our sweetheart from Madder Rose. Introduces songs self-consciously: drone-rock mixed in with odd shards of splinter guitar and a sweet, repetitive drum machine. Introduces songs with pride. “Zero G” is the Pop Number, gently bruised and bruising, a slow burning delight. “Ready To Fly” blisters out like an early Nineties treat, all uncertain mood-swings and helpless shuttered blinds. “Sleeps Unsound” is like Stereolab given some (shrugs) additional *oooomphh* but minus the Minimalist Art Forums. Less is more, but not at the expense of melody. Another song sounds like Elastica or Electrelane, dampened down and huggable. Nothing too remarkable, least not taken in small parts… but slowly, sweetly, a mood builds up, mesmerising. This is quite something. Better than we dared hope from a handful of snatched demos by this Brighton band. Better than… better than most pop shows, for sure.
Another girl stands stage-back. She’s hidden behind a keyboard. Seems to prefer it that way. Shyly smiles. Laughs when the monitor falls off its temporary home on top of a (unused) piano, stimulated into movement by the deep-red noise vibrations – not once, but twice. “Sorry to come here and start smashing the place up,” remarks Mr Guitarist stage-front cheekily. Something like that: something to indicate the pervading sense of friendliness, of joy and (vaguely unexpected) pleasure in the room. No candles are burning, but they should be. Disco ball lights are welcome.
Mr Guitar Man is one of the two males to offset La Mômo’s female charm with his anguished falsetto harmonies. Mr Bass Man is taller, funnier in his facial expressions, with a nice yellow shirt. Gawky and cool, just how we like our pop stars. A friend points out that La Mômo are composed of two married couples, making them the indie ABBA. Let’s hope they don’t follow a similar path in their relationships. This music is far too sweet and absorbing to deserve such an acrimonious end.