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The Relationships – Scene (Trailer Star Records)

“This is a very English blues / Falling like rain on barbecues”. The Relationships are the soft grey melancholy of English summer daze and picnics under hazy skies where you feast on servings of shivering slices of psychedelia pie. They’re that British thing of doing summer even though summer isn’t really doing itself.

Photos on the record sleeve show a gentler version of this country that does actually still exist, if you’ll only tear yourself away from ‘Heat’ magazine a minute; model villages, windmills, churches, English eccentrics. The lyrics are full of the likes of favourite bookshops, village fetes, flowered hats, hailing cabs, a psychedelic ball and macrobiotic diets. So step aside awhile, lie back on the grass and luxuriate in the crystalline peal of ex-Razorcut (yay!) Angus Stevenson’s jangling twelve-string, whilst vocalist Richard Ramage’s estuary enunciation adds to the woozy Barrettness of it all.

‘Scene’ opens with a triumvirate of heart-meltingly perfect jangling pop songs reminiscent of fab mid-80s Suffolk superstars (well they were in my village) The Avons. ‘Flying Saucer Girl’ shimmers perfectly and wouldn’t sound out of place sparkling cutely in a Brian Jonestown Massacre set. ‘Mediaeval Day’ swerves and spangles with ringing chords, whilst ‘Hide and Seek’ chronicles a twisted English suburbia. A sense of harking back infuses the record. Mentions of “travelling back in time” and being “happy how you used to be”, are maybe a sign of the, uh, slightly more mature songwriter, which is no bad thing. This reaches a peak on the sublimely wistful ‘The Approach’ with its ‘60s dream sequence imagery and lament of “if we were still alive / this would be our finest night”. ‘Look at those Days’ busts into a magnificent 12-string freak-out finale, reminding me of ex-Primal Screamer Jim Beattie’s guitarry goodness (jingle-jangle Roger McGuinn era). Then there’s ‘Something Strange’ with its echoes of that great English psych oddball Julian Cope.

‘The Village in the Dream’ is a place where “everything is very, very green” and “smiling ladies served ice-cream”. Hang on isn’t that Truck Festival? It all makes sense, I saw The Relationships at Truck last year. I was lying on the grass under a watery sun and that hippy bloke with the ribbon in his hair bobbed about merrily whilst a small girl waved a glittering streamer. And The Relationships served up a bumper basket of perfect, pastoral pop.

R.R.R.G: Imperceptible shingle fog

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