Well, this is a nice change of pace and tone. Poison Deluxe play what I can best describe as psych-tinged jazzy R&B with a heavy edge and a very Mod-like amphetamine-fuelled feel to it. Of course when I talk about ‘R&B’ I don’t mean it in the modern, heavily bastardised and lacking in everything except irritation quality, sense, but more in the ‘classic’ sense – Stax and whathaveyou – y’understand?
Musically speaking the majority of the tunes on display here put me very much in mind of The Jam and the ‘quirkier’ Queens Of The Stoneage numbers such as ‘Monsters In The Parasol’ and ‘Go With the Flow’. Guitars are, on the whole, taut, relatively ‘clean’ and loaded with snappy reverb. Lots of jazzy and spanish-sounding chordings are used to great effect by guitarist/vocalist Francis Puglie, the vocals of whom have a very smooth, crooning quality that sits very well indeed with the snappy R&B jazziness of the rhythms surrounding them. Stephen Paski holds down the low-end with a very driving and energetic Bruce Foxton/Bruce Thomas, of Elvis Costello & the Attractions, style of playing and also does double time on organ, which features very prominently on just about all of the twelve tracks that make up ‘The Dead Tree Blues’ and is responsible for a great deal of additional texture. Drummer Maximillian Ear has a very deft touch, and knows exactly when NOT to play too much. The three musicians together make for a very harmonious and original combination indeed.
As I said earlier the majority of the tunes are firmly in that jazzy freakbeat/R&B mod zone, all zippy drums, walking basslines, jazzy staccato chords and liberal dollops of Hammond organ, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they all sound the same, no sir. Thanks to the tasteful musicianship of all three members, in particular the keyboard skills of Stephen Paski, we have an album that is very much a delight to listen to and a real surprise upon first hearing.
Opener ‘Matured Wine’ has a real rock’n’roll thrust to it, driven by clipped guitar and prominent bass, ‘Keep On Run’ sounds like a Spanish White Stripes, and ‘When I’m Down, He Comes Down’ has a 20’s-style light jazzy swing to it, replete with Django-esque guitar solo and ‘megaphone’ vocals, and puts me firmly in mind of Queen’s ‘Seaside Rendezvous’ and ‘Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon’. The jazzy R&B stomp continues into ‘A Free Demonstration’ s dramatic guitar and swirling organ crescendos, and the Booker T-isms of ‘My Latest Dreams’ and ‘P.Skunk’. The QOTSA sound is most obvious, to MY ears at least, on ‘I Can Run My Way’, a song I could really imagine Josh Homme getting his teeth into, and the Jam sound surfaces on the freakbeat modism of ‘Vortex Blues’. The entirely piano organ and accordian-led ‘Old Memories’ makes me yearn for the gothic-cosmic vaudeville of the much-missed Pleasure Forever, before it’s back into the swing again with ‘A Long Way’. Last track proper, ‘I Love The Way You Write’, is a wah-wah-tastic li’l groover with some smashing organ and a great vocal line that really sticks in the head, and last track actual, ‘Ocioidei’ is entirely backwards. Muy lysergic.
Sooooooo, there you have it. You’ll find very little here if you’re looking for dooooooooom or stoner grooves, but if you’re an adventurous soul you’ll find much to dig herein. Personally, I dig it muchly, but that’s just, like, my opinion maaaaaaaaaan.
Scribed by: Paul Robertson