Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ecoutez et Repetez: Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid

MJ Hibbett has a formula. A formula to solve the world's problems through idiot-grin optimism and a can-do naivete. So on latest album "Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez", MJ and his Validators solve Anglo-Franco relations through dancing ("Do The Indie Kid"), propose an end to gender wars through finding the nice blokes at record fairs, comic conventions etc. ("All The Good Men"), tackle national obseisty through common-sense ("Do More, Eat Less" - yes, it's that simple) and on opening track give us a formula for national happiness: "Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid".

If you've heard an MJ Hibbett (with or without The Validators) album before you know what to expect: well-executed melodies, highly hummable tunes, clever - but never smart - lyrics and puns. It's care-free, old-fashioned indiepop without a pretentious bone in its body. Some may find it toe-curlingly twee but it doesn't give a hoot about that or about 'indie cred'. The apparent casual approach to life, politics, music and credibility hides some excellent and well-drilled playing throughout. And if it can get a little formulaic at times its good-natured optimism, memorable hooks and unrelentless enthusiasm win you over.

There aren't any songs (to my ears yet) that equal the mighty duo ("The Gay Train" and "The Lesson of the Smiths") from previous album "We Validate!" but there are half a dozen that stand out. But that unrelenting enthusiasm, plus a couple of other factors, mean you'd be churlish just to pick a few; so why not submit and buy the whole album? The first of those factors is: I have nothing but love and respect for anyone who records for a record label called Artists Against Success. The second is the Validators' secret weapon: the backing vocals of Emma Pattinson - exquisite, Kirsty MacColl-esque in sound, in quality and in their ability to lift melodies and songs to a higher level as evidenced here.

So all-in-all good fun rather than great art. But "Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez" is also a contender for the Mercury Music Prize. Read the full story and MJ Hibbett's Mercury Music Pledge. And whilst you are there don't forget to sign up for the monthly newsletters of FACT. Not one to rest, MJ Hibbett is now working on his next project "Dinosaur Planet" 'a one-man rock opera' coming to the Edinburgh Fringe this August.

MJ Hibbett & The Validators
Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez [BUY]

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