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Customer Review

29 January 2018
To really follow one's heart's desire, it must take a certain amount of selfishness. But as anyone who's read Viv Albertine's no holds barred autobiography 'Clothes, Music, Boys' will know, to truly exist then certain sacrifices need to be made.
Albertine's return to the recording studio after years living the fairytale myth of domestic bliss is something of a personal triumph for the lady.
Firstly for sating the seemingly unquenchable desire to free her art, and secondly for being able to unload so much from her chest. As songs like 'Typical Girls' by her former band the Slits made obvious, Albertine has never nursed the intention of becoming just another 'Stepford Wife' and 'The Vermilion Border' continues strongly along those lines.
This is made abundantly clear from the off via the discontent of 'I Want More', and the savage irony of 'Confessions Of A MILF', the latter boosted by the notable encouragement of one time Clash Guitarist and ex beau Mick Jones. Utilising the novel idea of a different bassist for virtually every track, Albertine's reputation has been able to coax in the likes of Tina Weymouth, Norman Watt Roy, old muckers Glen Matlock and Denis Bovell, and even the late Jack Bruce, whose double tracked fretwork graces 'In Vitro'.
Albertine's cynicism knows no bounds as shown by the quickly accessible 'Hook Up Girl', and it would be easy to afford a wry smile to 'When It Was Nice', but I suspect it's a genuine heartfelt look back on the finer points of her broken marriage.
This is soon tempered however by the world weary disillusionment of 'The False Heart' and the wounded anger of 'Don't Believe'. Written on the day of her father's passing, 'Don't Believe' lists all the things Albertine can see and touch { concrete, iron, wood etc.} in her denouncement of religion, love, time, and all the things that she can't. It's a slice of bitter realism that sits alongside Lennon's 'God' in it's directness, a painful exorcism that was hopefully cathartic for her.
A cheerier litany is applied to the playful 'Still England', whereby Albertine wittily addresses all things quintessentially english. A close cousin to Ian Dury's 'England's Glory', the song is the ideal album closer with things like "Marmite on toast" being drolly rhymed with " Marley's Ghost" and " Pilkington Glass" with "Pippa's arse". Delivered in that well spoken middle England way which belies her humble Muswell Hill roots { both here and elsewhere}, the pay off line of 'Still England' is one that I'm not at liberty to repeat here, but is worth it's weight in gold.
The same applies to the album as a whole, and while I hope that Albertine returns to the recording studio I don't think she'll ever be able to repeat this record's forthright and most candid moments.
Musically diverse and melodic, I'm going to stick my neck out and declare 'The Vermilion Border' to be one of the first great albums of the decade and probably the 21st century.
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Product Details

4.7 out of 5 stars
31
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