My Life Story – ‘World Citizen’ reviewed

❉ We Are Cult’s Ange Chan on Jake & co’s first album in 19 years!

In the 1990s My Life Story were the doyennes of Britpop, scoring chart success with songs like Strumpet and Twelve Reasons Why (I Love Her) with their quirky lyrics and orchestral pop style.  Their critically acclaimed albums The Golden Mile, Mornington Crescent, and latterly Joined up Talking are permanently played on my music device of choice. In the interim  My Life Story morphed into Exile Inside and Choppersaurus, and meanwhile frontman Jake Shillingford has worked with a plethora of pop artists from P J Proby to Marc Almond, who is a big fan of My Life Story and tweeted as much earlier this week.  Now 19 years since their last album, they’ve released World Citizen which has been written during the recent on-going clusterchaos of global news.

The album opens with #NoFilter, a recent single which was released on 22 August and lyrically reflects on how internet image is all but in the cold harsh reality of actual life, there are no filters.  The ballad style is reflective and the opening lyrics “you looked like a million dirty filthy dollars, standing before me” is a superb opening line for this long-awaited album.

Taking a change of pace to a poppier vibe is Taking on the World where the theme of world citizen manifests itself in a 3 minute pop-bite about the strength of a long term relationship, that’s as solid as a rock.

Broken is a guitar-lead poppier tune which lyrically talks about only seeing people for what they are on the outside.  “I’m only broken on the inside” Jake sings, but wrapped up in pure pop it doesn’t appear quite so melancholy.  Sent from Heaven is pure My Life Story throughout.  Toe-tappingly good with thoughtful lyrics which croon about finding the seemingly perfect woman.

Meanwhile the ballad-driven The Rose The Sun is lyrically-rich opening with “Three hundred and sixty five, sunsets will rise, into my open eyes” and is packed with metaphors a-plenty “My love is like the rose, the more you cut it, the more it grows”.

The One an almost Beatle-esque track in terms of both the simplicity of its lyrics and minimalistic backing treatment.  For me, this is my least favourite track on the album.  A complete juxtaposition with my favourite track follows with the title track World Citizen which is straight from the Britpop era with a catchy hook that you will find yourself subconsciously humming to yourself, time and time again.  If this isn’t the next single, then it certainly should be!

Meanwhile Telescope Moonlight Boy sings about the wonder of a 9-year old and his night time telescope discoveries and exploring the boundless limits of the world around him beyond his imagination.  The penultimate track on the album is A Country with No Coastline which starts with a simple piano accompaniment and which sings about the loss of a particular element in life, like a country with no coastline, and the beautifully poignant lyrics, “I’ve waited for a long time, for your waves to crash over me”.  Pure evocative beauty!

The final track, Over Winter ironically talks about the loss of a relationships; all the effort, love and partnership put into it, which eventually fades away into a period of Winter; “I see no beauty in its decay” sings Shillingford in the most melancholic of tones, over hard heavy synths and drum machines.  You end up listening to the final track on the album with a tinge of regret, remembering the relationship break-up which you personally endured, and remembering all over again, with all the pain and heartache you felt at the time.  It’s a powerful metaphor for the last track on the album in that amongst all the love, the beauty and positivity in the world, that eventually nothing last forever and it all comes crashing into a chaotic crescendo.

All in all on first listening, I’m hooked in.  The album is a complete work of art which should be listened to as an entire set of work; it takes you on a journey from new beginnings, hope and love through to the everyday trials of life, and finally the harsh reality of things ending.  It’s pure genius!   As a big fan of My Life Story I’m hoping they don’t leave it another 19 years until they release new material (although to be fair to Jake we have had other incarnations in the form of Exile Inside and Choppersaurus, but still…).   Jake still has the innate ability to move me emotionally through his thought-provoking lyrics and long may it continue!

Catch My Life Story live at Islington Assembly Hall on 2 November following with a small tour also going into next year.


❉ My Life Story: ‘World Citizen’ is out now via Exilophone, RRP £17.99 (LP)/ £9.99 (CD).

Ange Chan is a poet, novelist and regularly writes for We Are Cult.  Her latest volume of poetry ‘Songs of Sorrow and Heartbreak’ was published in October 2017.  Her third novel ‘Champagne Flutes and Pixie Boots’ is currently a work in progress, which she hopes to see published in 2020.

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