Martin Newell remains a treasure. One almost gets tired of reading that but the reality is that it needs be read. Until Newell is as respected and well-known as XTC's Andy Partridge -- a sometime collaborator -- then it needs to be written.
If you're late to Martin Newell's genius, that's all fine and good 'cause Rose of the Lanes, out tomorrow on Soft Bodies Records, is a pretty good place to get started or get yourself reacquainted with the man's work. On this Cleaners from Venus release, Martin offers up his style of very English pop that seems to be, yet again, the product of a life spent listening to records from The Kinks and XTC. Not that there's anything at all wrong with that if the results sound like this.
Here Martin offers up spry tunes like "Isn't She The Biz" next to more expansive stuff like "Ministry of Light" which seems to nod in the direction of Robyn Hitchcock's output in terms of the title and the guitar explorations of the cut.
"Third Summer of Love" offers up exactly the sort of song you'd imagine from that title and it's placed next to the more whimsical and heartfelt "Liverpool Judy" on Rose of the Lanes. "Billy Liar" pleased this fan of the classic film, while "Lazy Elaine" charmed me with its blend of a Ray Davies-worthy hook played in a Marc Bolan style. The joining together of the legacies of those two English legends sounds so easy when Martin attempts it.
"Denmark Street" rollicks along like XTC in their Dukes of Stratosphear guise, while "My Young Mum" offers up a piano-based, intensely charming Martin Newell gem. That the Cleaners from Venus frontman can switch gears from whimsy to heartfelt sentiment so easily speaks volumes to how much he's processed from the history of British pop. A true treasure, Martin Newell continues to be one of the great cult figures in indie rock. Rose of the Lanes, out tomorrow on Soft Bodies Records, is a fine, fine showcase for the genius of Martin Newell and The Cleaners from Venus.
Find out more about Martin Newell via his official website.