Above: Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey of The Catenary Wires
The new album by The Catenary Wires, Birling Gap (Skepwax/Shelflife), is graced with a photog of cliffs of white, one of England's many claims to fame. "It's a good emblem of England," says vocalist Rob Pursey, as Birling Gap "combines various versions of England and how England thinks of itself."
The cover photog was meant to be of the whole band (Rob plus Amelia Fletcher, Fay Hallem, Ian Button and Andy Lewis) standing at the cliffs overlooking the sea. Rob went there on a "recce mission" with his father (whose main interest was hunting up sloe trees to pick their small bitter plums to make alcohol) to scout photog locations. Familiar story, the global pandemic intervened and the album cover is sans band.
According to Cliff Notes, in King Lear (Act V: Scene 2; Shakespeare - - - another of England's claims to fame!) a disguised Edgar leads his blinded father Gloucester to just such an English cliff to "cure him of suicide". Huh. British themes run deep on Birling Gap as Amelia and Rob duet their way through its ten songs.
Strong British themes, like "Brexit" and arguing over how to pack the groceries; real Ringo Starr/Pete Best type shizz. The songs on Birling Gap shift the personal politics of their former combos Heavenly, Marine Research to more national issues, like the availability of spare parts and lack of proper holiday destinations now that the United Kingdom is economically cut off from the rest of Europe.
It's not all nuts and bolts. There's some lovey dovey stuff, too. Three albums into their oeuvre and The Catenary Wires still have a twinkle in their eye. Let's face it, they're like two kids strumming guitars, having the time of their lives.
Amelia likes the duet format, it allows them to create "drama, it allows us to do satiric portraits of other couples who live in England." Those cliffs of white, they're where patriotic Brtishers park their car, break out the home made sloe gin and toast Merry ol' and Dunkirk. The "idiotic" pro-Brexit types who "want to take up the drawbridge and lock us in."
But wait - - - still digging those lovey dovey songs, like "Mirrorball," of which there is a fab video:
The Catenary Wires, pop music in 2021; terribly modern, just the way we like it. Shakespeare, white cliffs, Brexit and all.
The Catenary Wires, Birling Gap LP!