Yes,The Penny Black remedy has followed up the mouthful that was the excellent Inhale...Exhale... Ok, Now You Can Panic! with the latest mouthful that is Maintaining Dignity In Awkward Situations. It's album which, like its predecessor, will be a real grower and needs a good few listens. This album was produced by the old Polecat Boz Boorer during sessions in Portugal and Croatia.
It opens with the wistful break up (or not break up?) song I'd Murder To Have You Back as they want to kill each other and yet at the same time still want to have another go with each other. Barbara Bartz' violin is baleful and evocative of the damaged state Keith Thomson and Marijana Hadjarhodzic find themselves in trying not to strangle each other.
The pace picks up on the jaunty Signs Of Weakness which is akin to a post-fight or argument kind of song as she promises no to show any weakness to anyone but you. The strings sound really romantic against the barn dance-style rhythm section that keeps it going at a good pace and the subsequent fiddle solo is wonderful.
Seventy Years will be the next single in the new year and seems destined with the right video to be 2018's dance sensation as it comes with its own set of moves for everyone to learn and dance along to. The album version is a good bit slower than it was live but, damn, it's a really catchy sing along song that should get plenty of airplay on the sort of cool radio show that likes a good country dance craze and can get by the use of the f-word in the chorus although I'm sure they'll have a radio edit prepared too.
Trying To Be A Better Person has a good rock-steady, ska-style beat accompanied by the strings as Keith gives us a list of all the things he'd usually claim as new year's resolutions before carrying on like normal. Will he really change and will he miss his old self, we ask, before the guitars go all twangy on us or more importantly before the song gets stuck in our heads and we can't stop singing the chorus.
You Should've Left Your Money At Home is a very familiar blues belter. Yes it sounds a lot like Let My People Go with new lyrics about another tale of desperation and all sorts of reasons for leaving your cash at home. As she's demanding how much cash you have stashed under the bed!
This Car Is Gonna Crash is played like they are careening down a Balkan Mountain road with no brakes and they don't know what to do except to keep repeating "the car is gonna crash" as they music gets more frantic and a bit rockabilly in places and they keep yelling at the driver to slow down.
It's Dark Outside is a perfect winter's evening song as Keith pleads with his love to not go home by herself and she gets pissed off that at 35 years old he still thinks she can't walk home alone as they muse about how dangerous or safe the streets are outside after dark. If this song was in a horror movie it would come on before some really horrible crime happened. The action would kick in as the violins rise to the fore just before they start to list the band's favourite serial killers.
Crawling My Way Out has an extremely familiar tune that I wish I could name over which they list all the reasons why we know that no one gets out of here alive over an almost hillbilly country blues tune.
The album closes with Is It safe To Say 'Goodnight'? It's a slow public service announcement relating to all the things you should check before going to bed including making sure the CCTV is on and the doors are locked and padlocked the alarms are on as if they are deep in a bad hood or just a touch paranoid. This is sung over a mournful lament that should be playing over a film of all of the singer's worst fears unfolding, kitchen sink drama-style. It's a wonderfully evocative song with which to conclude.
This really is a gem well worth finding at: Penny Black Remedy online