Half Man Half Biscuit: Urge For Offal (Probe Plus)
THE BISCUITS ARE guaranteed a place in Indie Heaven when eventually they shuffle off this mortal coil after a slew of excellent albums that finds uses for plankton-level celebrities, and revels in the minutae of everyday life. Only these superstars of the Wirral could carve out songs from subjects such as daytime TV, korfball, moshpits, crap support bands, and bemoan the annual National Shite Day. This is the follow up to the slightly disappointing 90 Bisodol (Crimond) in 2012, an album that strayed from the band’s renowned love of the pun and the mickey-taking for more darker subjects. If the titles on Urge For Offal are anything to go by – Baguette Dilemma For The Booker Prize Guy and Old Age Killed My Teenage Bride – we are in for a treat. Urge Offal begins with a trip to the seaside with Nigel Blackwell scribbling on his postcards about the delights of “A Devon cream tea around half past three … Crazy golf with a Swedish couple we befriended.” It all goes well until Frank Ifield jumps up and down on a windmill and then we understand, yes, Westward Ho! – Massive Letdown.
This One’s For Now mimicks Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain … “You’re so beige/ I bet you think this song is about someone else,” a couplet that rhymes with Standard Liege, and a former Slovak football manager is spotted in an obscure Wirral suburb.
Then there’s the mythical Adam Boyle, who is celebrated – or lamented – as he casts lad rock aside, eschewing “after-match lager in ‘Spoons” and “his Dad’s Mac and Katie Kissoons.” Wikipedia is a necessary requirement when listening to a Biscuits album. Instead, Boyle has his folk antennae fully switched on and has “booked two weeks off at the end of July/ Dumfries and Galloway, Plockton and Skye.”
It’s all fun and games for Blackwell, Neil Crossley, Ken Hancock and Carl Henry as they delve into the importance of good car care, and bemoan a lack of ability for DIY.
In among all these throwaway lines about Crewe station and baguettes the music is almost secondary, but, like the lyrics, this is trademark Biscuits territory, snatches of indie-rock, a touch of folk, sometimes full-out, sometimes not quite so, and in the one-minute 14 second, Theme Tune For Something Or Other, I suspect the four-piece have recorded their first-ever instrumental.
This is Half Man Half Biscuit’s most rock’n’roll album – Stuck Up A Hornbeam, for example, is pure post-psych Status Quo – and it’s also a travelogue for Britain (with the West Highlands and the south of Scotland in particular piqueing Blackwell’s interest).