The Sash My Father Wore (And Other Stories)

SL Records

ccording to some piece of hackneyed junk the Glasgow Herald decided to fill pages with this past week, we are living in exciting times for Scottish music. Franz Ferdinand are the new Bluetones, Dogs Die In Hot Cars are the new Franz Ferdinand, there’s some bloke they actually do describe as a “tortured soul” without any hint of irony, and, of course, Speedway. So, obviously, these are salad days for Sassenach guitar operatives. They’ll be dancing in the streets of Kirkcaldy tonight, and they’ll be playing Josef K on the boombox.

Except it seems that Gordon Macintyre didn’t get the memo.

Instead of celebrating his band’s position as Scotland’s premier indie fop-pop act that aren’t Belle and Sebastian or The Delgados, he’s instead decided to wave goodbye to former keyboardist Katie Griffiths officially, and the rest of the band unofficially, and made an album that for the main part consists of a boy, his guitar, and a partially realised ear for a tune.

It’s not entirely a drastic departure, though: Ballboy have always been a Macintyre showcase, a shop window for his embittered romance lyrics and well-enunciated vocals. Indeed, deprivation of the rest of the band is unlikely to be noticed until you start scouring Google for other people’s reviews of this album because you haven’t got any ideas what you’re going to write about it for Stylus.

Yes, it’s one of those.

It’s always been preferable to love Ballboy. Calling an album Club Anthems and giving it a dead on pastiche of a Balearic house compilation for a cover, naming single “I Hate Scotland”, shouting out “I hate house music, cuz house music never meant anything at all to me”; Ballboy have always been a likeable band—previous album A Guide for the Daylight Hours, whilst not exactly pulling up any trees, at least disturbed a few bushes. It was likeable, though. A likeable album with a few likeable songs by a likeable band.

There comes a point, though, when likeable just isn’t going to cut it any more. There comes a point when you have to realise that you’re just not good enough. That point is The Sash My Father Wore (And Other Stories). Sometimes that mule that’s been carrying your water and you across the desert just needs putting down so you can get a decent actual horse.

“Page 3 girls get you excited/ You support Rangers and Man United” is a peach of a way to start an album though, kicking off the title track with a tip-toeing rant against a “big fat bigoted arsehole”, presumably one wearing the sash of the album’s title. It is what Macintyre does best nowadays, however, as he actually allows himself a hook within the song. Too much of the album floats by and leaves you unable to discern any information about the songs, transient tunes with nothing that grabs.

“Kiss Me, Hold Me, and Eat Me”, on the other hand, is a love song about two cannibals. You see? That’s what we want.

The Sash My Father Wore (And Other Stories) is the sound of a band believing their own lack of hype, and that’s a shame. What would Benji say?

Reviewed by: Dom Passantino

Reviewed on: 2004-01-20

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