The Pure Conjecture is fronted by the eloquent Matt Eaton – an award winning vintner from the west country - backed by an impressive squadron of musical sharp-shooters including Martin Noble (British Sea Power), Thomas and Alex White (Electric Soft Parade / Brakes), Johny Lamb (Thirty Pounds Of Bone), Marc Beatty (Brakes / The Tenderfoot), Darren Moon (The Tenderfoot), Steve Grainger (nada / Elevator Suite), Julian Baker (Notable Saxophonist) and rogue Scotsman Andrew Mitchell (The Hazey Janes).
Last year the band released their debut album, Courgettes, a none-more-trad soul record adorned with a picture of shrink-wrapped vegetables. It fused an arsenal ofexpensive chords with sly self-deprecation and lyrical left-turns. With a focus on keeping it simple, the songs were held together by Matt Eaton's leathery timbre – it was lush.
Gendres largely sticks to this modus operandi. In Eaton's mind the year is 1973, the locus Philadelphia. Thus Gendres twinkles in the romantic glow of warm vibraphones, muted trumpets and sublime vocal harmonies.
That said, album opener, ‘Roadworks on Memory Lane’ sees the band employ wide-screen Big Star guitars with Eaton’s deadpan delivery leaving one unsure whether to laugh or cry as he sings:
“I was born at seven minutes past seven o'clock, on the seventh day of July, Nineteen seventy-seven / I weighed seven pounds, seven ounces, cos I was seven days premature / I spent the first seven hours of my life in an incubator”
Followed by the hooky Dick Dale doting, ‘Surfin’ Sunset’, the poignant ‘Opinion Fatigue’, then the lounge-stylings of ‘Mr. Tong’, it’s clear The Pure Conjecture have a charming individuality which is both at odds with and wholly impervious to current musical trends.
Eaton’s voice compliments the introspective, melancholic and reflective nature of much of the material. Weighty songs like ‘Dictators’ wouldn't be the same without the vulnerable lived-in quality that his voice suffuses the words with.
‘I Just Want You To Love Me’ is about the simple pleasure of experiencing affection, whereas ‘Midnight Dancing’ addresses the experience of confused emotions aroused by confusing music – a rather more abstract pleasure for the songwriter.
Album closer, ‘Thought I’d Get Along With You’ is a sweet reminder that although the wonders of physical existence are gradually migrating towards the removed terrain of the Internet, a lot of the more worthwhile aspects of life will probably never change. Co-writer Martin Noble believes this song to be “the sound of i-date heartache” or as Darren Moon (the other co-writer) puts it “a tender examination of the alienating effects of technology when it acts as the primary mediator for human interaction”.
There is a concern that with today’s freedom to self-publish, the value in the art may have been degraded to near worthlessness by social media. The songs on Gendresare primarily concerned with finding a place in the constantly flowing passage of time, trying to comfortably marry personal emotional truths to a socio-political landscape littered with pithy, convenient sound-bites.
Reflected against this landscape, every shameless falsetto and soft-soul lament that Gendres has to offer is a most welcome one.