With this new album (mini-album...whatever…) Jolly Discs confirms its position in the front rank of new-ish London labels. We’ve been puffing up this unassuming cassette-oriented imprint since hearing Special Occasion’s remarkable The Word last year (the full flowering of a talent we first glimpsed on a killer 12” for Born Free), and tapes from Enchante and RAP have added to the story that will one day be a LEGEND. The common thread across these various projects/releases is label head Guy Gormley, whose production is a thrilling update of classic DIY pop with influences from deep house/techno, three generations of London soundsystem music, and an understated, YMO-ish synthetic sheen. Never is a collaboration between him and vocalist/songwriter Sam Bardsley, and its a work of exquisite London (although tbh Bardsley is Berlin via Wales... we're projecting here): vocals combine the salty melancholy of a Robert Wyatt with a very post-2010 bedroom R&B sensibility. The lyrics are great – sincere but self-deprecating, clever but not overreaching, romantic but not over-egged - and I honestly think Never have made one of the great subterranean pop records of our time, with a sound and mood all its own.  Hard to pick a favourite, but the song-for-an-empty-head comedown consolation of ‘Love, Truth, Lies’ is a particular favourite, while 'The Park' is a classic of paranoia in civic space, coming over like New Order stripped to the bone, a heart-stopping frieze of phased guitar, simple synth motif, thickset soundsystem bass and phased brass. Gormley wrings so much feeling and eloquence out of his drum programs, he's a producer who knows that dub is allied to groove and is about how things sit, and move, in space: not just afterthought echo and delay. The whole thing is beautifully produced and mixed, making an absolute virtue of its humble, minimal instrumentation rather than hiding behind a lo-fi fug.  Just so, so good… just when you think everyone making music is a solipsistic potato incapable of original thought or action, along comes something as eccentric and accomplished yet humble and SOULFUL as this. As life-affirming as those first puny rays of Spring sunshine. 




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