Miles Hunt and Erica Nockalls – “We Came Here To Work” reviewed

­­❉ Liz Buckley on the rich, thoughtful new album from Stuffies Miles and Erica.

“Never having shied away from taking a strong moral stance, Miles and Erica’s album is necessarily more about empathy than attack. It’s an album of depth, of worry, and also of kindness.”

With The Wonder Stuff soldiering through a heap of festival dates whilst their bass player is still wheelchair-bound from a nasty traffic accident, an upcoming tour on the cards for next year, not one but two plush books newly-published based on singer Miles Hunt’s old touring diaries/scrapbooks, (takes a deep breath) a new acoustic album from Miles together with the band’s violin/cello/vocal virtuoso Erica Nockalls out this week alongside a bunch of dates from them to promote that too, not to mention an ever-accelerating influx commissions being bubble-wrapped in Erica’s stunning art studio… well, you would be forgiven for thinking album title We Came Here To Work was self-referencing.

Whilst they might be far from work-shy, this new record from Miles and Erica comes in direct response to the current political climate, with refugees being demonised in the light of the West’s once lost but now rekindled love for walls and borders that’s been ushered in with “Trump” and “Brexit” and all those other words you’ve finally muted on Twitter. We live in a time where millions are being unhappily forced to migrate, through war, through prejudice, through extreme climate change and at a time where offering homes, help, work and understanding is being withheld if not actively vilified.

Not a record in the ’60s protest song mould, this is rightly a very emotional, darkly atmospheric mood setter that steers away from banner-waving or slogan-touting. It’s not the sound of a couple with acoustic guitars and an array of ageing CND badges busking in a tube station to the unresponsive rat race, it’s a rich, full and very human record; its anger comes with maturity, its lyrics are thoughtful, its harmonies are balming and its instrumentation beautiful. Never having shied away from taking a strong moral stance (The Wonder Stuff’s I Wish Them All Dead was written in furious response to the existence of pedophile group Man-Boy Love Association), this new album is necessarily more about empathy than attack. It’s an album of depth, of worry, and also of kindness. And those are not adjectives or emotions you often feel in response to records. At a time where people shunted across the world are being dismissed, caricatured, dehumanised and abandoned, it’s entirely correct that music written in response is as affecting as its subject matter.

Whilst simultaneously drawing on personal observation, songs such as The Currency Of Youth and A Matter Of Circumstance couldn’t feel more relevant to a far more worldly, communal experience. Just as it’s impossible to ignore what’s happening globally within your personal life and your pub talk, it’s impossible to ignore it in your suggested listening. Heartfelt, intelligent and essential.

­­❉ ‘We Came Here To Work’ was released on Friday 8 September through Good Deeds Records.

❉ Liz Buckley is a manager and compiler at Ace Records. Liz has also written about rock and pop for various publications and websites, and in 2016 was one of ThatLot’s 30 Amazing Women You Should Follow On Twitter. 

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