Dislocated Dance
I fucking LOVE The Playwrights. A CDR with two new recordings destined for an EP and an album that will be released by who knows who and who knows when just dropped into my greedy hands and can it be prised from my stereo? Can it fuck. What's so special about The Playwrights? What's NOT so special about The Playwrights? I mean, really, this sound, this magical ordered chaotic mangle of guitars and NOISE is the kind of music I dream of, is the kind of thing that comes haunting across my life from my pasts in waves and when it's being made in the here and now once again, well, you know that's a time for celebration. Now, I hate to go back in time because The Playwrights are not about looking back but are instead about moving forward with a dynamic spring in their step that lets them leap tall buildings in an instant, but bear with me for a moment please... Because going back in time I bump into some ghosts of sounds that are important; that are airbrushed from the history of independent pop that you won't find anywhere except maybe in obscure fanzines, online or otherwise, never mind the ´official' histories of popular culture peddled in the high streets and mainstreams the world over. You know the ones: the ones where all of the intriguing connections through from, to pick a bloody obvious example as I have in the past and will do again and again in the future, Nirvana to the whole obscure indiepopunk of the ´80s is whitewashed in favour of the far less enticing but far more profitable links to banal geriatric Rock. So that a kid in high school who picks up on Kurt obsesses on his doe eyes and ends up buying Led Zeppelin instead of Beat Happening records. And you know, I may be old and grumpy and out of touch and whining on about stuff that really doesn't matter at all, but fuck it, it DOES matter, and I fucking hate that no-one else sees it, least of all the 16 year old kids with the Led Zeppelin record collections...

But The Playwrights! And those ghosts that, instead of being laid to rest, are being exhumed and invited along to play on a magical mystery tour in my head; a wondrous Lollopolaazallowhateverthefuckitis where these bands and their sounds shimmy across the globe (of my heart), changing people's perceptions of Pop in one delightful caress of edgy noise. Who is on this magical tour? Well, Gang of Four for one, naturally, because it's the Gang of Four's clanging jarring rhythms and guitar collisions that seems to seep through so much of what is strangely being called post-punk once again (that's post which ´punk' exactly?), and for sure it's in The Playwrights noise, and that can only be a good thing and hey, if you think otherwise you can get the fuck out of here right now. So the sound of Entertainment is all over these new Playwrights songs. Who else? Well, The Blue Aeroplanes fly in for a smooth landing with their cacophonic beat pop art poetic swirl; The Chords, and maybe John Carney's mythic Purple Hearts drop in and throw in their hand with their surging Mod Pop, and really, when it comes down to it, The Playwrights are a great Mod band, blending their melodies with noise, just like The Creation and of course by association just like The Clash, because naturally Joe Foster was right. And as a great Mod band of course they are an awesome dance band. Just try listening to the surging abandon of ´Dislocated' and ´Welcome To The Middle Ages' without whirling like a dervish around your living room. I'm just sorry you're going to have to wait to do so...

And finally, as I've said in the past and will keep on saying, here come The Wolfhounds to help matters along, and don't you know it by now? The Playwrights are The Wolfhounds nigh on fifteen, twenty years on. Scary. No-one else will give a shit of course, and why should they? But like I said, these things are Important in the way that only the disposable nature of Pop is Important, in that it's not important at all except in the ways that, oh, I don't know, the scent of perfume on a scarf or the brittleness of your soul in the face of a withering glance is the kind of thing you couldn't truly Live without. So these two new songs from The Playwrights sound once more like The Wolfhounds, are full of the same taught dynamics that filtered through, say, ´Son Of Nothing', ´Happy Shopper' or ´Rent Act'; singles that made my whole world revolve back in the depths of the era when the 1980s dissolved into the 1990s. There are more parallels too, I'm afraid to say. The Wolfhounds of that time were largely a forgotten band, a troupe of wild hearted outsiders making a beautifully unholy Pop racket that, if they had been from Seattle instead of East London, would probably have had them lauded from the front pages of the music press the land over. Anyone who cared to look and listen would have found echoes of the Wolfhounds in, say, Pavement, but of course no-one did. Similarly, fast forwarded to the 21st Century, we have The Playwrights making the kind of skewed post-punk that a million and one chancers from Noo Yawk would probably kill for, but that gets brushed under the carpet because, hey, The Playwrights are middle class suburban kids from Bristol with an ear for a strange and slightly unhinged melody. It's fucking criminal.

Others are better placed to sell the idea of The Playwrights in the current climate than me, of course. Those people will have a far larger stock of hip phrases to bandy about, will have a list of recognisable names with which to make comparison and reference which I, in my blissful ignorance will glance at with furrowed brow. And whilst I will froth at the mouth and scream ´but what about The Wolfhounds!' I'll know it's really for the best, because The Playwrights deserve to be huge, deserve to be plastered on the front pages of music magazines across the breadth of the land, deserve to have their records blasting in iPod earphones the world over.

© 2003 Alistair Fitchett

´Dislocated' and ´Welcome To The Middle Ages' by The Playwrights are not yet available. The former will be the lead track on a proposed 4 track EP. The latter is the opening track on their projected second album and will be on the Sink And Stove compilation The Hospital Radio Request List - Vol 2.

Playwrights records currently available include:
Good Beneath The Radar album
Television In Other Cities EP
The National Missing Person EP
All on Sink and Stove Records.