Jolly New Songs – Blue Tapes and X-Ray Records description
Nothing hurts harder than a surprise ending, and the title track of this album has a real face-slap of one. One minute you’re in bliss, carried away in a crescendo of spine-tingling post-rock guitars and soft, wordless oohs, the next you’re through – the song’s out the door, down the street, pulling away from the kerb and into a new life.
That the overall tone of Jolly New Song is so anthemic and – for this band – uncharacteristically triumphant, only makes having the rug pulled out from under you like this seem so much more cruel, so much more funny. Perhaps the harder the fall is, the more you have to laugh.
Because the Gdansk-based post-punk-psych band Trupa Trupa are sodden in a particularly cryptic kind of gallows humour. This isn’t just down to some glitch in translation – it could be in part due to the band’s art-rock origins and because their singer and guitarist, Grzegorz Kwiatkowski is an award-winning poet in Poland (incidentally, Trupa Trupa themselves have been shortlisted for the Polish equivalent of the Mercury Music Prize).
And then there’s the fact that the band’s name in English roughly translates to Corpse Corpse, which sounds like the punchline to some inscrutable gothic joke.
But being literal is easy. This isn’t John Lennon’s tedious, platitude-toting Imagine. This is The Beatles in a universe where their most famous song was Tomorrow Never Knows; a Pink Floyd that split when Syd Barrett’s mind did.
There are no Wonderwalls here. Instead we have Coffin, a uniquely morbid love song that comes in the form of a seriously ear-wormy pop ditty. “Lying with you, without a move, the coffin so smooth…” Grzegorz cheerily croons, before the tune tumbles into a catchy major-chord chorus about burning trees, people and birds.
You can dance to this album – check out the to-die-for funk groove that propels the Can-like Falling. You can trip out to it – check out the psychedelic meltdown that mutates the Wurlitzer fairground music of Only Good Weather into something dark and psyche-scarring.
Sometimes it sounds like the end of the world (the bleak roar of Mist), but sometimes it sounds like the start of a new one (the unashamedly gorgeous To Me).
The Quietus declared Trupa Trupa’s critically-acclaimed 2015 album, Headache, to be “their first moment of true greatness. This is incredible work,” and suggested that these musicians were on the cusp of a Dog Man Star or Daydream Nation – something genuinely game-changing and era-defining. Jolly New Songs is that album and it does not disappoint.