Andy Holden and his allies create an uncategorisable, genre-hopping assortment of sounds and songs that’s part anthology and part debut
he Grubby Mitts are a collaboration between renowned artist Andy Holden and his long-term allies Johnny Parry, Roger Illingworth, James MacDowell and John Blamey. They describe What The World Needs Now Is as part anthology and part debut and, having listened to the genre hopping assortment of sounds and songs, it comes as no surprise to learn that the album took eight years to complete.
Like The Beta Band at their most experimental, The Grubby Mitts’ music is almost uncategorisable. Sweeping sound collages compete for room with more recognisable song structures. Pessimism Of The Intellect, Optimism Of The Will is an opaque (and listenable) version of Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) with Holden listing a seemingly random list of objects over creaking instrumentation. On Bubbleblower a calm cello track is rudely disturbed by an appearance by Sooty’s maddening friend Sweep before descending into a frantic rock number.
These deviations and experiments in noise are tempered by occasional moments of pure pop joy, in particular the two songs whose lyrics were written by Illingworth. Home At Last is the most immediate track on the album, a wistful break from the madness which will delight any fan of British indie music. His other lyrical contribution comes on Worm Of Eternal Return, the point on the album where the seemingly disparate fragments come together gloriously. A roll call of imaginative characters such as “the grass snake of gratitude/ the rhinos of doubt/ the peppered moth of timeliness/ the bat of belief” tumble forth before Illingworth concludes “Whatever else I am, I am not in your arms”.
This is music at its most challenging, and at times infuriating. But for every grating sound effect there is an instant or incredible charm. For those brave enough to stick with it, What The World Needs Now Is is a hugely rewarding experience, albeit a completely bonkers one.
Verdict: Challenging listening with a huge payoff for those prepared to stick with it.
Get a taste of The Grubby Mitts album and listen to this remastered version of their debut single, To A Friend’s House The Way Is Never Long…