Pepe Deluxe

Eclectic is sometimes a compliment and sometimes another word for ramshackle. Pepe Deluxe is eclectic in that it tries to run in ten different directions. The album opens with a hip-swinging slice of updated sixties as it never was. Swaggering and call-and-return chorused. Then again, it is the second single so, if you’re lucky, you’ll have heard it. Ms. Wilhelmina is a baroque fancy, flavoured with essence of Syd Barrett before being run through the Spiritualised big hymn machine.

Astonishingly, this is the third album from the Finnish duo. It’s so packed with effort to impress and wild ideas that I’d have placed it as a first album. What James and JA-Jazz have done is to strip out all the samples that coloured their earlier work (remember the Levi’s Twisted ad?) and re-invigorate themselves with having to work in a different way. What they produce is a huge psychedelic jam-pot. The basic models the songs are hung on are recognisable sixties tropes, giving that ‘ah’ recognition factor, then they’ve psyched them to the maximum and mixed things up. It’s a loud and funky album though one of many moods – taking you up then down instead of a more flowing approach.

Go For Blue is like The Animals and Arthur Lee’s Love nailed together playing blues with Pigpen from The Grateful Dead laying down a ‘can’t find a woman’ rap on top. Last Of The Great Explorers is wig-out electric guitar jamming. Pussy Cat Rock is a bigbeat explosion of imaginary garage rock. Apple Thief is a dreamy drift that veers into something country-esque then falls into Flaming Lips territory (you know, the trademark twenty things at once, some slightly out of step). In fact, with songs like Captain Carter’s Fathoms and its calculated whimsy, there is a lot of the flavour of Wayne and the boys here, mixed up with snippets of a Beatles line or some other snatch of off-kilter instrumentation. The overall sound is wonderful, like a museum of vintage instruments and sounds and the overall texture is between the chewiness of carrot cake and the spicy zing of a coffee and cinnamon cake. Yum.

Ross McGibbon