Big Surr “In Business” (Independent, 2017)

Being in love is such fun, isn’t it? When it stops being you against the world and starts being us against the world. To be understood. And supported. And to go cruising in a car laughing at all the poor saps around you who haven’t got – and never will have – this glorious indestructible shield against the world. In Business opens with Alright, which freeze dries those feelings and drops them in your pocket. With her perfect disdainful popular girl vocals Helen Van gives the restrained cool version of these feelings, with the understated “Since I’ve been with you I’ve been alright, I’ve been alright” whilst the underlying guitar hooks provided by the band betray the thrill down the spine truth of her emotions. 

Falling out of love just sucks, doesn’t it? Especially when the other person proves themselves to be such a jerk. Such. A. Jerk. Helen Van kicks that one into touch on At the Bi-Rite, kissing off a failed affair and looking resolutely to the future: “I’m in business, be my witness, and I’ll never sleep with him again / I’m empowered, every hour, and I’ve never felt better than this”. Is there just a hint of sadness on the girl-group “ooo-ooo-ooo-ooos” – yeah, maybe, but there’s a brash swagger to the prospect of a whole new life “put on a new brand sweater / new clothes feel alright / things never have felt better”.

In between there are songs about friendship, staying up late and sleeping until the afternoon. Vacation is a nicely sarcastic look at a failed new life plan “We moved out West you wanted to / I packed my bags and followed you / West coast vacation our new life”, it all falls apart in a haze of alcohol and broken dreams. Faded covers the same story with “faded nights and long weekends / endless fights and old boyfriends” added into the mix for a woozy hungover reflection on lifestyle choices that aren’t really working as well as planned. It’s the sound of confused youth – the half pleasurable, half painful, gaining of experience.

Big Surr are a swaggering band, beautifully rough around the fuzzed up edges. Songs full of great hooks, a distinctive lead singer, hard edged but bound together with some well chewed bubblegum.  Helen Van knows what she’s about – and can be pretty direct about it – “I want to stay in bed with you / there’s nothing else I want to do / I want to stay in bed with you”.  Direct, fuzzed up rock with a slightly goofy, youthful side.  You thinking Ramones? You thinking Blondie?  Well, you should be.  The band has had quite a few line up changes as Helen Van has moved around – let’s hope this one gels for a while as they sound…perfect.

Author: Jonathan Aird

Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan's music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That's not much to ask, is it?

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