First off, this is the last time I will type out The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing; from now on they are TMTWNBBFN, an initialism that will save both my fingers from unnecessary work, and my keyboard from getting too worn out! Those with an interest in the macabre world of the mythology built around Jack the Ripper may well be familiar with the full phrase from which this band of would be end of the 19th century punks gleaned their name, but if you aren’t feel free to look it up yourself.
So, who are TMTWNBBFN if ‘Not Your Typical Victorians’? Well, they are a four piece whose most well known member is their vocalist/guitarist Andrew O’Neill, a man who is just your typical cross dressing black metal stand up musician anti-establishment figure who appears on BBC Radio 4 sitcoms and panel shows, the other members being throat cancer survivor vocalist Andy Heintz, fellow comedian and bassist Marc Burrows, and sticks-man and stalwart of many bands Jez Miller. Hell, they’re hardly a typical band, let alone typical Victorians, nor is their chosen subject matter of punk rock social commentary via the medium of criticism of the inequities of English Imperialism at its height of two centuries ago is a brave and novel medium in which they manage to combine comedy with trenchant analogies to modern life. Bloody hell, this is starting to sound like a serious sociology paper rather than an album review; onto the music!
After an intro that brings together a host of sound bites from assorted films, including the screamed cry of the bands name by Michael Caine in full Inspector Abberline mode, the album blasts to life with the stripped back stomp of the title track, The Damned style beats matching well the complex interplay of lyrics contemptuous of social convention being shared by the various band members. More classic punk influences about in ‘A Clean Sweep’ the riff sounding like it had dragged itself from the guitar of Steve Jones to travel through time and accompany the story of the gruesome demise of a child chimney sweep; ‘Chim Chim Cheree’ this is not folks! The mythology of Victoriana is further explored in track after track: ‘This House is Not Haunted’ plumbs the depths of the still current obsession with ghosts and spirituality; ‘Vive The Difference Engine’ explores the mechanical ancestor of all computers and predicts the rise of the Terminator, all with a jaunty spring in their step; whilst the band moves into the darker realms of the grunge sound, complete with a hatred for the industrialised world in ‘Turned Out Nice Again’. The discordant sounds of a funfair from hell creep out of the speakers in ‘The Worst Sideshow Ever’, a song that can be equally taken on face value as a critique of a fake freak show, or a commentary on Jeremy Kyle style bear pit television and YouTube channels.
On ‘Not Your Typical Victorians’ TMTWNBBFN present thirteen songs with some of the most erudite and cutting lyrics you’re likely to hear in a hell of a long time, all set to music that whilst outwardly simple, is highly skilled, no shortage of ability needed to make their sound simultaneously stripped back and full. You also get a band that can be equally treated as a novelty act, or social commentary. Either way, the album is damnably enjoyable, and with a fair few live dates coming up soon, you get your chance to see the band yourself and draw your own conclusions.