We Love You by Bilge PumpRelease date: February 15, 2019
Label: Gringo Records
Leeds DIY stalwarts Bilge Pump return with their first album for a decade and it’s a real winner. A post-punk, art-quirk trio of formidable dexterity and fierce live reputation it’s probably fair to say they have, thus far, maintained quite a low profile. We Love You ought to see them reach a wider audience both with youngsters who were only kids when their last one came out and those of us who think 2009 was “just a couple of years ago, wasn’t it?” alike. Of course, ten year gaps between albums suggest a range of awkward possibilities from “no-one was speaking to each other” through to “we have totally over thought and over worked every little thing about it” but pleasingly Bilge Pump seem to have avoided them and just got on with it in their own sweet time. Developing and honing their music, living their lives.
Perhaps it’s their defiantly anti-glamour name but there’s a touch of Wallace and Gromit about Bilge Pump. Unassuming men tinkering away in their sheds to create something remarkable, largely for their own amusement. Lyrically too they step lightly from everyday observations and grumbles about the local council to the exploration of supercontinents. The punningly titled ‘Wheel of Yew’ is a perfect introduction, a circling bass line, an insistent sway, it’s suddenly sliced through by vicious guitar. As the track intensifies that riff wraps tightly into itself carrying a scorching guitar solo to the end.
Bilge Pump have patiently developed a sound of their own which is enjoyable and familiar but still charged with possibility. It’s hard to pinpoint, which is nice. Post punk, hardcore and noise rock are the soil from which they’ve grown but they now seem beyond or outside of genre boxes, certainly no respecters of limiting structures. They do not play Jazz, although it gets invoked regularly as shorthand for the extraordinary fluidity of their playing.
The trust between them as musicians extends out to the listener, perhaps that’s what they mean by We Love You. You trust them. Just occasionally there are tiny flashes of how it could all go wrong in lesser hands, slip into an indulgent torpor, and you appreciate all the more that they never do. The majority of the record is compact and concise, the songs tightly bound bundles of musical ideas. On the couple of occasions they stretch out beyond 8 mins there’s no flab or meandering.
The steady groove of ‘The Passion Of The Kid’ underpins some random ruminations and heads off into wild and exploratory guitar fireworks before setting back down to its stoic chant of “The Lord giveth, The Lord taketh away”. The closing ‘Gondwana Girl’ is even better, all sing song verses and jagged guitar. It bends in half and tears upwards into a raging noise jam ending, It’s fantastic. The work of a band at the peak of their powers, We Love You is bright and brilliant. Ten years in the making but arriving a day late for Valentine’s, it deserves to be loved back.