October 5, 2022

The Neutrinos – Build Him Till He Breaks (Wet Nurse/Stockpile)

Marge Simpson: What’s ‘brunch’?
Jacques the bowling instructor: It’s not quite breakfast, it’s not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end. You don’t get completely what you get at breakfast, but you get a good meal.

(The Simpsons – The Bowling Lesson Episode)

Prior to his woefully premature demise, a spin on the John Peel radio show had become a kind of quality-assurance stamp for new music: Peelie’s passing has left behind a small tribe of musicians who are the sad, proud bearers of one of the most sought-after signs of recognition in the business, a thousand times more valid than the Mercury or anything similar with an awards ceremony tacked on. And it’s easy to tell why he did love The Neutrinos so. Loud, crass, raunchy, sassy, sexy, careless as a carrier bag in a vortex, these guys deliver where so many fake, and Peelie had no time for fakers, no time at all. Goodness me no.

So we’re talking music as train-crash here – a jangle-mangled head-on heap of rock-historic hooliganism where magnificent oldies like T-Rex, Blondie, Patti Smith, and Bowie share a smoking, demented crush-fest with people like Sonic Youth, Polly Jean Harvey, and Prefuse 73. And, rising above the carnage, lead singer Karen Reilly’s voice – a Bulgarian choir condensed into one throat – belts out the sort of classic art-rock lyrics – “too much too soon too fast too bad too fat too thin too hard to cry – BUILD HIM TILL HE BREAKS” – that aren’t going to disappoint anyone with a penchant for the lady-punk-blues schtick. Think a female Nick Cave fronting The Pixies, or Goldfrapp meets The Fall, and you’re not far off.

Ahead of their new album – One Way Kiss – due in the New Year, The Neutrinos release this tasty appetiser going on brunch – a five-track ‘single’ that’s about as single as a polygamous parson, but considerably less wobbly-chinned.

Their 2004 début on Wet Nurse – Sick Love – demonstrated the confident musicianship that comes from that easy familiarity of an ensemble that’s been together a while. The Neutrinos have been big in Norwich since 1998 with a live set that makes waves on The Wash, by all accounts. On this hearing, One Way Kiss should rock a few boats a lot further away. Break out the lifeboats. Adopt the safety position. Brace.