Though this band were a really big deal in the UK when I was young, I don’t know that they made much of an impact across the pond. I don’t remember anything about them except their name. And even then, I don’t really remember why I remember their name, just that I heard it somewhere.
In intent if not in execution, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine remind me of Manic Street Preachers around this time, only these guys are more obvious about their intentions; they’re not trying to lure us in with some “cock rock” and then one day we wake up and they’ve successfully brainwashed us. No, they let you know immediately that, despite their name, and some of their music, these guys are punks.
This sound of theirs, which is some kind of hybrid between alternative rock and dance music, is apparently called “Grebo.” I have never heard of that before but it’s vaguely reminiscent of Madchester, at least if this record is anything to go by. If that’s your thing, that’s good, you will probably like this. If it’s not – and I can understand that because this is the most British late ’80s, early ’90s sound ever – then the real appeal is the lyrics.
This is a snotty attack at British society in the finest tradition of young British musicians sneering at British institutions. Imagine a more melodic Johnny Rotten singing over a grungier Stone Roses and you get some idea of the vibe. But Jim Bob is very much his own man and, though he is participating in a longstanding tradition within British popular music – and, before that British culture at large – it feels like he has his own voice. (I’m not sure if I feel that way merely because I haven’t heard this kind of snotty “Stuff the upper classes!” attitude over vaguely dancy music before, though.)
This is not my thing, musically. But there’s enough here lyrically to amuse me to make me more willing to listen to the music. If you’re going to sing about how awful your country is, I would prefer the music match the lyrics. And here, it sort of does, which is better than the Manic Street Preachers at their most polished.