The vehicle for Nico – original violinist with 90s indie band Pele – Steve Wickman of The Waterboys, and writer / producer Andi Crutwell-Jones (plus some guy who appears in the promo shots), The Supreme Art of Nothing describe themselves as being ‘like chocolate chip ice-cream melting into a place of salt and vinegar crisps’. It’s clearly intended as an analogy for incongruous and improbable elements combining successfully, but I’m genuinely more concerned by the prospect of soggy crisps, and whether they’re ridge-cut or not. That, however, probably says more about me.
Similarly, the fact I can’t recall the last time I received a CD with a ‘parental advisory’ notice. Admittedly, I do tend to have fewer physical releases in my hands these days, but this still feels somewhat anachronistic in 2020, as well as something I’d probably associate with commercially-orientated releases.
So how broadly commercial is the likely market for ‘So This is How it Goes’? Commercial, perhaps, but not anyone under the age of 40, given the pedigree of the musicians involved and the fact the style is very much is deeply rooted in the late 80s and early 90s scene, where folk and indie came together and crashed the top 40 singles charts.
The album kicks off with the spirit title track, a folksy stomp that comes on like a hybrid of The Levellers and The Wonderstuff. ‘Hey Lover’ and ‘How Dark is Your Night’ have a punkier edge, but are still strongly melodic, and punky in the way The Boomtown Rats were punk. The slower songs bring a more reflective feel with some nice lyrical turns, as on ‘Monsters’, with the line ‘and your heart beats fast like a car-crash aftermath’.
Marking another stylistic shift, ‘My Life Crisis’ features a major lift from Buggles’ ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ which again clearly places the target demographic, and while everything about ‘So This is How it Goes’ is solid and musically accomplished, I can’t help but feel that a portion of its appeal will lie in its capacity to evoke nostalgia – not because there’s anything inherently nostalgic about its contents, but because of the way it evokes a spirit of a now-bygone age.