PRIME MINISTER – 10 (digital release)

10You’ll be relieved to know that Prime Minister is not Cruella Braverman’s latest project. It is, in fact, a collaboration between The Village (Phil Matthews) and Mark Pearson. 10, their debut release, is a set of, well, ten, self-penned songs. Phil is very much a narrative songwriter who packs a lot of words into his writing and has a taste for nostalgia and mysticism. I’ve not encountered Mark before but to judge from this album his writing style is punchier – an interesting combination – and they shared the tasks with Mark writing the words and Phil responsible for the music.

The opener, ‘Stick With Nurse’, borrows from Hilaire Belloc’s famous admonition with the suggestion that it might be best to “hide away from life”, a sentiment I frequently endorse. Or is it? Should we face up the world and live it to the full? The bouncy tune suggests the latter – replace the lyrics with something anodyne and it could be a pop hit from the 60s. It’s been trailed as a single which seems like a good choice.

Growling guitar and pounding drums introduce ‘Thunder And Lightning’, a song that suggests that we’re helpless in the face of all the shit that’s going down. Or is just about a storm? You see, two tracks in and I’m questioning everything I’m hearing. ‘Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye’ is a thoroughly nasty story about government murder and abduction. We’re not told the where and when but it could be here in a few years from now. The only bright spot is an electric guitar break towards the end.

‘Sunday Morning Market’ is rather jollier with another bouncy tune as Mark enjoys his weekend treat. ‘To The Moment’ returns to the subject of fear and Phil’s music adds to the creepy feel. I’m getting uncomfortable images of child abuse. ‘Razors In The Silver Ring’ tells of gangs whose protection rackets terrorised bookies back in the day. Paradoxically it has a jack-the-lad sort of tune but it’s one of the album’s top tracks. ‘Breezing Up’ is inspired by Winslow Homer’s painting and extrapolates that image into a whole story with a very nautical instrumental break and seagulls.

‘Magic Carpet Ride’ isn’t the Steppenwolf song (I was rather hoping it would be) but Phil’s explanation that it was the only title that the song could be given rings true. ‘Paloma (The Girl With The Stars In Her Eyes)’ is a pretty product of Mark’s imagination and ‘Miranda’s Now A Hippy’ is another song inspired by a painting, a Hockney this time. The thing is that Mark’s lyrics are packed with cynicism and clearly aimed at weekend bohemians. I love it.

It’s a sad state of financial affairs that restricts 10 to a digital only release, at least initially. I really believe it merits a full physical release but in the meantime head for Bandcamp.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website:

‘Razors In The Silver Ring’: