It is almost two whole years since Forwardman (for whom the ‘forward man’ is Sakari Viittala, having started off as a solo act) last visited NMC and a lot has happened in Finland in the meantime. The country joined NATO, and it’s rather attractive young Prime Minister went disco dancing much to the snooty distaste of some and then promptly lost the election soon after.
None of this is of much concern to Fowardman. I’ve noted previously that they can write and play a wide range of style options which have previously encompassed ballads and Britpop a la Oasis (the fact Sakari could pass for Our Kid Liam in some shots is entirely incidental) and with the appropriate attitude where it matters.
On ‘Soho Fugitive’, the second digital single from their fourth album, ‘Stranded Future Soho Fugitive’ which comes out on 9th February only on vinyl (digital releases later),they shift into a hard rock/punk persona, with distinct shades of The Jam or The Clash (think particularly of ‘London Calling’.)
They seem to have a thing about London. The song is set in the darkest recesses of its dodgy central district sandwiched between grubby, down at heel Leicester Square and shoppers’ paradise Oxford Street by way of Theatre land.
One of Polly Scattergood’s early and favourite songs of mine, ‘Bunny Club’, was set in the same neck of the woods after she moved there and evoked an atmosphere of fake glamour meeting real life misery where she invited you to “have the ride of your life underneath these pink fluorescent lights”, “Finger my pigtails as you deal me some cards” and “Call me your princess as you do me a line” in a place where “there’s no love lost.”
I didn’t think anyone else could succeed to the same degree in painting such a picture of life lived on the Soho edge but Forwardman give it their best shot with lines like: “I sleep the day and get going when the night comes back/I pick up my cash I´m paid out of bra got to make this last/Working for madam Lee-Ann, moving fast” and then, “Their skin´s so soft, twinkle in their eyes when their tops come off/ They shake they hips around like a hurricane.”
Polly would resonate to the beat.
(I should mention in passing that when I first heard the song I thought the line was “…like Harry Kane” and you know that might even have worked better, bless him, old Harry there having to earn his corn in Munich when he could be experiencing the Tottenham delights of the Seven Sisters Road, the Little Russia neighbourhood and the Broadwater Farm housing estate).
Musically, the composition is intriguing. It belts along a pace from the start and they cleverly up the tempo between the first and second verses into an unexpected climax as if to signify that’s how quickly you could be caught by the Old Bill, or cop for a bullet or a slash of a knife if you make a bad move.
In the last phase of the song it turns into a jazz-rock jam that sounds like a coming together of a shady version of Jools Holland collaborating with Madness, c.1980, when Soho was a damn sight more seedy than it is now.
I repeat myself I know but Forwardman have real talent. It’s an abstract talent and it might not immediately hit you, but be patient.
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