Meet Me By The Viaduct by corporationpopRelease date: April 20, 2018
Label: Odd Box Records
corporationpop was born of late night drinking in a suburban kitchen. It’s a solo project of Elise Hadgraft, who doesn’t shrink from “sardonic electro-poet” as a pretty good working description. Meet Me By The Viaduct is her debut physical release following a demo soundcloud EP. It’s spoken word kitchen sink poetry over clanky car boot electronics and it’s fantastic. Tough and smart like one of those girls that hung around outside the chip shop and off-licence, and made you nervous ‘cos they’d cut you with a word or a look. The viaduct in Stockport looms across the skyline carrying trains and life in and out of Manchester Piccadilly, to Birmingham and London. If you’ve never visited Stockport, you may very well at least have sailed over it.
On ‘Seven Miles South’ she sketches out a familiar hard worn physical and emotional landscape between the viaduct and her kitchen table, yellow under the light, sticky with spilt drinks and resentments. There’s a touch of New Order’s ‘Your Silent Face’ about the melancholy backing but faded and washed out. It’s unlikely to be adopted by the local council. “Welcome To Stockport…” at first she seems to speak out her words almost painfully slowly, the tracks seem thin and perfunctory but repeated listening reveals the considerable charms of both. She doesn’t rant, vent or spit but calmly tells her dark tales, almost like lullabies. There’s something of Jarvis Cocker’s spoken word interludes, of Momus, even Neil Tennant about it but what it’s most like is Maxine Peake’s work with The Eccentronic Research Council. If she doesn’t yet have Peake’s actor’s mastery of delivery it’s worth baring in mind she’s only been doing this for six months.
She’s been compared to “The Human League meets Sylvia Plath” but why not have some fun concocting your own versions, Shelagh Delaney meets Visage, Kraftwerk turn off the autobahn onto Coronation Street, Cabaret Voltaire at The Embassy Club, Fad Gadget as played by Sheridan Smith. The Plath comparison is no doubt down to the second track ‘Ted Hughes’ which draws on the tragedy of Plath and Hughes’ marriage. We’re still in the kitchen, but we’ve moved from the sink, to the table, to the oven. Plath gassed herself in 1963 while their children slept, Hughes has been cast as an abusive monster ever since but he’s also been dead twenty years at this point. It’s not clear if it’s directly about them, but that two great poets drawn into a soap operatic tragedy would fascinate her is understandable enough. Still, something about it makes me slightly queasy “you look just, look just like Ted Hughes” would be a great throwaway line in one of these tales of domestic misery but doesn’t stand up quite so well to the glare of being a chorus and makes it my least favourite of the four tracks. Her writing is less confessional and imagistic than Plath but self harm and thoughts of suicide haunt the rest of the EP too.
‘Blood On The Bedroom Curtains’ follows a tormented self harming teen and has a slight but elegant and heart sick melody line. Those girls stayed out by the chip shop ‘cos they didn’t want to go home. Didn’t like to be alone. The subject of ‘Bleach’ is older, stumbling along on a miserable road but just about finding the strength to keep going. Cocker gets a name check for his jackets in the unwelcome company of Clarkson and Myra Hindley. The electronics on this track are stronger and fuller but a rising tide of pub chatter brings an extra smart touch to the production. Potential can be an easier thing to waste than live up to and there’s so much potential here it makes me anxious thinking about it, fingers crossed there’s an amazing album in her. Meanwhile, this is well worth your attention.