This review was first
published on CLUAS in 2002
Other albums reviewed in 2002
A review of their single 'Oh Happy Day'
Louis Walsh recently popped up on RTE and in that toe-curdlingly Napoleonic way of his he dissed the now defunct Divine Comedy and a couple of other Irish bands in the most scandalous way. The burden of his mithering was that arty pop does not bring in the moolah. It reflects great credit to Stoat to say that Louis would run a mile if he heard them. They're a straightforward three piece and for trios to work there can be no slack involved. Stoat are tight, punchy and are slickly polished - without being dayglo glossy. There is an art rock tinge in their sound but its backed with sardonic intent.
"Oh happy day", Stoat's second single, brings to mind a brief interview I saw some time ago in which Andre Previn, the classical conductor, spoke about a spoof sketch from the mid 70s in which Previn and Eric Morecombe were the main characters. Eric did the funny bits and Previn, vamped in a de riguer monkey suit and swishing a baton, looked on aghast. Previn recalled that just before the sketch was filmed Morecombe more or less took him up by the cuffs of jacket, looked at the whites of his eyes, and said through gritted teeth , "Play this dead straight."
There are plenty of musical gags on "Oh happy day" but the single works and works well because Stoat don't laugh at their own jokes. At first the track sounds a little undercooked in production terms but repeated listens, especially when the band deliver it live, kill that notion. "Oh happy day" features choppy guitar lines, louche vocals and a tight rhythm section. It's not day time radio fodder, but then it's not fodder of any description.
Stoat are playing in a difficult league in difficult times - it's a sad fact that, in this airbrushed vacuum packed muso world we live in, ironic power pop is not given its due credit. If Stoat play it straight and don't let their irony get too ironic, they'll prosper and perhaps change that notion.