Total Victory are a band in the right place at the wrong time. They’re a post-punk band in the North West. Perfect! The problem? They exist right now, in the year 2016.
This is a band as rhythmically tight and socially aware as Gang Of Four, as witty as Half Man Half Biscuit, with a frontman who can spit shotgun vernacular like Mark E Smith. If these guys had released a few albums in the 80s all would be rosy, 2016 could mean a fruitful reunion followed by a tour of large-ish venues and a mildly disappointing album.
But no, Total Victory had the temerity to exist right here, right now. They exist in an age that prefers pre-packaged homilies than home truths. Nosing about finding new, exciting music is such a chore when you can be spoon-fed…
This may sound like Total Victory are heading for total defeat*. In reality, their existence is glorious. No-one sounds like this anymore. Sure, there are hundreds of bands that ape the style, the buzzing guitars and the grey-slacks of post-punk, but bands that want to stand on their soap box and say things about society and the country? After Sleaford Mods you can count them on the fingers of a mitten.
Their 2012 album National Service was a tour de force, a revelatory barn-storming session of insight, brains and rumbling music. Finally the long wait is over and a new EP/mini-album (take yer pick) is here, entitled If You Were There…
‘Atherton Derby’ jostles in with a bassline to resonate concrete and riptide guitars. Of course, it is the words that send Total Victory into the realms of greatness. Dan Brookes leads the charge with one of his trademark deadpan stories of Northern Life.
FLAT CAP GOB-SHITE FUCKED UP AGAIN
LEFT HIS WIFE AND KIDS IN THE RAIN
HE CALLS “WATCH OUT SLATTERNS!” AS HE ENTERS THE ROOM
WITH A DRIED UP CORNFLAKE STUCK TO HIS CHIN
THE CLATTER OF GLASS
THE RUSTLE OF PAPER
I’VE COME TO SEE A MAN ABOUT A DOG
‘Pine Cone’ is softer and delicate, almost resigned. A little trip down the Smiths path of jangly guitars and morose lyrics, or dare I say it, The Fall back when MES would wrtte a vulnerable song once every decade such as ‘Bill Is Dead’.
ITS INEVITATBLE THINGS WILL FALL APART
LET’S PICK THINGS UP WHEN THE LIGHT GOES DARK
WHEN THE BUSINESS SLOWS YOU DON’T HAVE HEART FOR FIGHTING
‘Mass Firings’ is one of those Total Victory whirlwinds that, in a just world would get played at student orientated clubs. Imagine if intelligent lyrics could co-exist with jagerbombs. Imagine. Here, Dan satirises the workplace with a skill that shames any Live At The Apollo hack. The way Dan spits “mass firings” like a Northern Dalek, it makes you realise how little frontmen use their words as weapons.
PORTRAITS OF BOSSES HANG IN OFFICES
AT THE EDGE OF YOUR DESK LIES THE CAMERA
THAT’S HIDDEN INSIDE THE WITHERING PLANT
THAT WE BOUGHT AT OUR BOSSES RETIREMENT
BUT HAVE NOW RE-PURPOSED TO LOOK AT
ALL OF YOUR PASSWORDS
MASS FIRINIGS – SEXUAL SHAME
I’M SAYING I’M SORRY AGAIN AND AGAIN
AND IF YOU DIDN’T NOTICE
I LIKE TO PRESENT MYSELF AS SOMEONE TO TALK TO
‘Counting Hill’ is a melodic piece of ringing guitars. A sweet slice of pop music.
It isn’t all about Dan’s words though, there is a helluva tight band right next to him and the epic closer ‘Kalfon’ is their chance to shine. They take flight and soar to new territory. The piece starts slowly, a spooky slow parade of atmosperhics; ghosts creeping through an abandoned Victorian music hall. When the drums kick in and a storm of guitars descend we find ourselves squarely in space rock territory, we’re now suddenly a lot closer to the realms of Mugstar and Dead Sea Apes. Getting faster and friskier, ‘Kalfon’ becomes an insatiable groove machine and Total Victory are at the centre of an irresistible space-disco.
Total Victory. They exist right now and they’re all the better for it. And so are we.
*sorry, this is my audition for voiceover artist on Hells Kitchen USA