The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing
‘This may be the reason why The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing Cannot be killed by Conventional Weapons’
Leather Apron Records
Reviewed by Alex Eruptor
Steampunk: I know what it looks like (biggles goggles, clockwork mechanisms, and dusty first editions of ‘around the world in 80 days’) but until now I had no idea what it might sound like. Unlike its nemesis cybergoth, no one really made steampunk music that you could hear outside of Whitby Goth Weekend. Until now. Because The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing have brought the sound of steam punk kicking and screaming into the digital age using the novel new medium of the ‘compact disc’ and have, as such, defined an entire genre.
I’d heard the rumours of musical saw players, sticks of rock, limited edition wax cylinder and gramophone releases, and no end of Victorian gimmickry. I’d read reviews on other websites about how good they were. But you see, The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing have played a clever (or cheapskate!) game, issuing press releases and drip-feeding the odd demo track onto the internet, but for the most part eschewing traditional ‘CD wrappped up in a press release and stuffed into an envelope’ type mailshots. So until now, I had no real idea what it all sounded like.
Well, after a most Churchillian introduction (perhaps a nod to Iron Maiden’s ‘live after death’ album?) it sounds like a whole bunch of different things and within the first four songs alone manages to tick a few boxes sure to appeal to ‘the punk kids of today’. You want Zombie’s and a piss-take of British monarchy? Check out ‘Victoria’s Secret’. Mythical sea creatures and all things nautical? Just listen to track three ‘Margate Fhtagn’. Left-wing politics and thinly veiled criticisms of modern day tory government? Its all there in number four, ‘Doing it for the Whigs’. Smutty Carry-On film-esque innuendo and ‘Flight of the Concords’ style musical comedy? I refer you to tracks 5 and 6 (‘The People’s Common Sense Medical Advisor’ and ‘Free Spirit’).
In true retro style the playlist is split into a traditional ‘Side One’ and ‘Side Two’, and after the strong start described above, I was pleased to discover that some of the best songs had been saved for the latter half of the album. ‘Brunel’ is a catchy little number about one of the greatest of British engineers, and ‘The Great Stink’ is a tribute to the work of another, Sir Joseph Bazalgette, who fixed the problems that London experienced one long hot summer as a result of using the River Thames as an open-sewer. ‘Tesla Coil’ will make you laugh, ‘Mutiny in the Common Soldiery’ is as good an anti-war song as you’ll hear, and ‘Poor Georgie’ tells the tale of a poorly executed human taxidermy project.
So there you have it: Part comedy, part rabble rousing political punk, part history lesson, but all original and all entertaining. It helps if you are aware of the historical reference points, but it works as a straight-up punk rock album too (and hey, you might learn something).