As soon as Old Man’s Shoes emanates from the speakers you quickly realise that you are in a very different musical world from the vast majority of music made these days. I guess it is an age thing, once you have put behind you the vacuous trappings of cool and fashion that younger musicians seem to value so highly, you are free to actually make the music you want to, rather than the music which fits zeitgeist and demographic. Yes, this is music made by chaps who have been around the musical block a few times, are clearly more interested in enjoying what they do ahead of all other considerations and are happy to flick hearty V-signs to expectation, trend and the usual music industry concerns.
So with that all out of the way The Missing Persians revel purely in making the music that they want. It is highly literate, observational and amusing, deftly wrought, cuts a cautious musical cloth – less is indeed more – and wanders some rootsy but quintessentially British sonic pathways. Difference growls with a blues rock and roll vibe but one as heard through the lens of the pre-punk, pub rock scene As I mentioned when reviewing Hot Cats, there is a lot of the Nick Lowe vibe that comes through in their music, but I’m not going to bang on about that again. Every Now and Then has a touch of The Oyster Band’s folkiness woven on to a reggae groove and Think is a bar-room jam par excellence. But being a fan of language and lyric, it is the gloriously named China is the Workshop for the Widgets of the World which holds the essence of the band for me. A humorous observation on the capitalist systems love of the lowest common denominator delivered with awesome alliteration and wondrous word play.
It doesn’t take long either to appreciate the versatility of the band, they make brave and understated musical choices, only put in what is necessary for the song rather than the ego of the performers but even with such a stripped back approach manage to take in old school rock and roll, folk intricacies, a uniquely British take on Americana (Anglicana…is that a thing?) bluesy swagger, pop balladry and rootsy vibes of their own design. It also becomes clear that their editing process is tightly controlled. But there are few songs here that you could see as a commercial success in today’s climate, that is because the songs are actually too clever, that they would too easily confound and confuse this year’s pop picker and that is modernity’s loss. That said each song here seems to be very much stand on its own two feet, there may be no hits in the commercial sense but there is no filler either, no more of the same, no also rans.
What you have is a collection of songs full of wit and wisdom, silliness and style, deft playing and well trimmed, clean limbed deliveries. In an age of excess and showboating, where substance is secondary to appearance, here is a band to remind us of what is important…or at least what should be important anyway. They say that a prophet isn’t appreciated in his own land, but The Missing Persians know that some things are more important than profit!