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Milky Wimpshake – Popshaped (Fortuna Pop!)

I’ve always tended to think of Newcastle pop-punk romantics Milky Wimpshake as purveyors (along with Hefner and Ballboy) of ‘thinking boy’s music’. Stuff about football and girls/boys and the everyday thrills and spills of just, y’know, being a bloke. I’m glad this music exists but it doesn’t immediately engage me. Hurrah for ‘Popshaped’ then, a mix of olden, previously recorded oddments and brand spanking new songs, which turns out to be the perfect introduction to a band who’ve only ever really lurked in my peripheral vision


Singer/guitarist Pete Dale has the kind of ‘indie’ boy voice that engages and charms; no great shakes, but heartfelt, sometimes vulnerable. Plus, how can you not have a soft spot for a man who uses the phrase “confound it” (in ‘Needed: Heart Handbook’).

On ‘Not Poetry’ Pete sings, ‘I'm not a poet/ I don't like poetry/ But I have got something I'd like to say/ I want to be direct’, and to get the most from ‘Popshaped’ you do need to pay attention to the lyrics, although I don’t see why they can’t be classed as poetry. The songs are three-minute vignettes celebrating the ordinary life; in praise of falling in love and thinking in cliches (‘My heart beats faster than Techno’); chronicling commuters (‘Sensible Shoes Blues’); and sticking it to our ridiculous prime minister (‘Here’s to the State of Mr Poodle’). Then there’s ‘Spidey’, a see-sawing, sing-song eulogy to the comic book hero, “and though I don't like the way they draw him these days/ I love the Spiderman for always”

The music is a tumbling mix of jangling guitars and instant tunes. ‘Pearshaped’ (a cover of a song by fellow Geordie Nev Clay) is very Pastels circa 1987, careening along cheerily with lines traded between Pete and ‘special guest vocalist’ Cath Tyler. ‘You’re Shaken, I’m Stirred’ has cowbell, glockenspiel and unsettling chords catching under your skin like tiny fish-hooks. ‘True Love/Youth’ is a heart-warming meld of Daniel Johnston’s and Jonathan Richman’s songs, a perfect way of showing fanhood.

‘Popshaped’ is a reminder that there are still people with integrity out there creating and communicating on their own terms, not being suckered by industry and media and scenes. A joyful, irresistible celebration of life, love and superheros.

R.R.R.G: Whacking copperplated dancing

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