The Servant : The Servant
The Servant have been operating on the fringes of London's rock underground for several years, and it's about bloody time someone took notice. Dealing with issues of obsession, human biology, infidelity, and loneliness amongst others, the band led by vocalist, guitarist and laptop tweaker Dan Black, suffuse their low-rent tales with superbly constructed musical themes, beautiful harmonies and a sense that they have been doing this far longer than they actually have.
This self-titled first full-length album is driven by stark realism and starts how it means to go on: "It'll all click when the mortgage clears, all our fears will disappear." Knowing that the 'grin and bear it' philosophy is the English way, Black recognises that despite the comparative luxury we live in here, there is still a malaise pervading society, creating an assortment of neuroses many can't deal with. This album confronts misery, confusion and pressure to perform.
Strange bedfellows crop up throughout: Album opener Cells, dealing as it does with a sense of uneasiness about the society we have created, fuses another sing-along chorus with a Cooper Temple Clause musical edge. Devil comes straight from Robert Johnson's crossroads soul-dealing exploits. Musically diverse within its few short minutes, it passes from Delta blues to more Cooper Temple Clause rock anxiety, and takes in a Stevie Wonder funky keyboard stab for good measure. Sounds a mess, but it works.
Somehow the music not always translating the lyrical intent is not a problem. Listen to what's going on and you will realise there is a greater force at work in and around these few tunes than you'll find in almost the entire catalogue of insipid nonsense served up by the pop-whoring community.
:: Tom Alford