Right from the opening energetic blast of Deeper, I just know I’m going to enjoy this! WorldService Project are described as “punk jazz”, an entirely appropriate label, Now on their fifth album, they marry the energy of punk to a raw nu-jazz sensibility, somewhat in common with fellow London agitators Led Bib, unsurprisingly given that Led Bibber Liran Donin is the co-producer here. That both bands are on the estimable RareNoiseRecords label comes as no surprise. Led by keyboard-vocalist Dave Morecroft, the wild mosh pit hi-energy workout of that first track carries on into Pomped Up Freddie, which deconstructs into a free jazz workout, a reminder of where the band is coming from. Largely though, the emphasis is on strident melody, with an undercurrent of anarchic menace.
Dave Morecroft had recently decamped from these shores, to live in Italy (lucky man!), and Hidden In Plain Sight is a message of anger and hope, expressing the feeling of frustration that is palpable on this benighted land right now, probably more so if, like Dave, you are witnessing the sorry decline of this once tolerant isle into a swamp of bigotry and misplaced nostalgia, from outside looking in. To quote Dave from the PR, “We’ve always been trying to promote a message of compassion and togetherness. We’ve always been eager to celebrate our differences but also to highlight the disproportionality that is only increasing in the world. Maybe that message has been hidden, so now we’re planting our flag in the ground, which is something that’s become more and more important to me as I grow older and stronger in my views, as well as bolder in what I’m prepared to say.”
The album is mostly instrumental, with one notable exception, where Dave gets to issue an impassioned declamation in his adopted tongue, on Sex, Lies, Lies and Lies. Although I would greatly appreciate a translation of his increasingly impassioned rage, which lends itself so well to the Latin tongue of Italy, one doesn’t need to be a linguist to get the gist, given the emotion expressed, and the track title. Sex, Lies… is the most sombre affair on the album, which soon returns to the end-of-Empire burning dance hall of the disaffected to find its inhabitants wild-eyed and legless, ready for a riot. Not that it’s all strident seriousness, for The Higgly Giggly Wiggly Woo is as mercifully silly as the title suggests, although it is apparently the signature tune for the band’s “nightmare-fuelling jester, Mr Giggles”. All will become clear if we ever return to those quaint things called gigs, I’m sure!
The Bozo takedown The Kipper and the Pork Pie, the stomping musical rage of Vendetta and the defiant lovenote Europhiles are three more tunes whose titles more than hint at their content. Musically, kindred spirits obviously include the mighty Shabaka Hutchings in all his many guises, and the wilder, punkier end of the London nu-jazz scene.
The album is a party that continues while metaphorical Romes are seen burning in all directions. The right might be in charge, it seems almost everywhere, but the rest of us have the best tunes on our side, and the righteous anger of WorldService Project is just the tonic for creeping acceptance under the all-enveloping cloud of ennui that seems ever-present in these weird, fractured times.
01. Deeper (3:28)
02. Pomped Up Freddie (3:46)
03. Where Am I? (4:06)
04. Sex, Lies, Lies and Lies (5:36)
05. The Kipper and the Pork Pie (3:42)
06. The Higgly Giggly Wiggly Woo (1:56)
07. Vendetta (3:09)
08. Europhiles (3:49)
09. Onward (5:40)
Total Time – 36:14
Dave Morecroft – Keyboards, Vocals
Ben Powling – Saxophones
Arthur O’Hara – Bass, Vocals
Luke Reddin-Williams – Drums, Percussion
Kieran McLeod – Trombone (tracks 2,6,8 & 9)
Record Label: RareNoiseRecords
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 25th September 2020