Chris T-T
London is Sinking


t would be hard to imagine a greater water change for Chris T-T than London Is Sinking. Earlier in the year, T-T’s Ben Folds Five-esque piece of pop cultural commentary “Eminem Is Gay,” hysterically managed to send curly-haired pie aficionado Jack Osbourne into an apoplectic rage within the pages of Kerrang!, with the junkie declaring “there’s a hierarchy of fame, and you just don’t do that.” Too funny. But, as stated above, in London Is Sinking we are given something a lot more personal, something that has a soul and a heart, rather than a smirk.

Of course, T-T has always had this strange dichotomy to his work, with his more famous work (the Benny Hill run-around with bloody schadenfreude of “Injured Popstars,” for instance) seeming strangely less whole than his more mannered, lesser known, lesser appreciated work (last year’s 500 Miles EP being a good case in point). So here, whilst we do get quirky, Chris appears to have taken the sage advice of Jack Nicholson, and sold crazy someplace else. The work is all the better for it.

That’s not to say that there’s no weirdness served up, though. Over the course of the ten tracks, giraffes get to explain their history, the line “as he slipped into old age/ Conan Doyle believed in fairies” is sung with the sort of wide-eyed reverence as if it was part of the sermon of the mound and we get some knockabout wackiness wherein Chris has his tea spiked with horse tranquiliser. But the whole album is relayed with a definite kind of romance. Not romance as in the prelude to fucking sense, but romance in the way that only the most cynical of humans find faith in humanity in.

Early on in the album there’s a song called “The River,” and it is a brave man who’d call a song such after nailing his Springsteen allegiances to his cross in so many interviews. But where Springsteen’s river, like Al Green’s, was a place where you’d get baptised, reborn and renewed, T-T’s river is merely a lot of water. A conduit for travel, a manner for getting around. It’s the same trick he pulled on his 2001 album The 253, based around a London bus route.

Baptism does turn up one on track though, “Battersea Bridge Baptism,” but rather than a rebirth, it deals with the drowning of a child by her mother. “She smells of the river,” Chris notes, as if this is a symptom of living in London. Indeed, there seems to be a sense of glee at the terrorist blowing up of London Bridge at the album’s end, as if violence can be seen to be the true cleanser of our age.

Of course, blah blah blah 9/11 and all that rubbish, but this is a strongly modern album, despite sounding absolutely like nothing that troubles the charts at the moment (or probably ever). It aches throughout, as if there’s something missing from the life of all present in the songs (or maybe all present in London?), especially the nameless female character who Chris is following on this journey. Annoyingly, there also appears to be something missing from the album itself. This is annoying, because we could have been talking about a year-round great here, but nothing manages to stick its neck directly out at you, or grab you. A real pity.

“Fuck me, the war is won/ And I didn’t have time to write a protest song” he yelps at one point. This may be true, but I think we’ve found our soundtrack to the wake of all the soldiers that went down in England’s capital.

Reviewed by: Dom Passantino

Reviewed on: 2003-09-29

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