Johnno Casson aka Snippet – Future Melancholy Pop Music (Folkwit Records)
CD / DL
7 April 2017
8.75 / 10
Wonky pop maestro returns with his long anticipated album.
It would go amiss to not start a review of Future Melancholy Pop Music without mentioning the exhaustive talents of Wim Oudijk. The Dutch musician, producer, mixer and songwriter ‘met’ Johnno Casson on over the internet eight years ago and worked together many many times. Considered a virtual brother to Johnno, Wim was a self-taught musician and formed the Navel Orange Choir in the late 70s, splitting in 1980 to give way to Trespassers W who were a touring and recording fixture right up until 2000. A solo career then cemented the talents of Wim. Johnno planned to visit The Netherlands to meet up with Wim for the first time in the Summer of 2016 before he became ill. He sadly passed away in September.
Whilst Johnno Casson is an extraordinary songwriter, the collaborative input of Wim cannot be ignored and it is an album like Future Pop Melancholy Music that does him great justice. We’ve long been a fan of his music and seen it develop over the last few years into something that deserves wider recognition far more than it ever has done. This collection of fifteen new songs, eight produced by Wim, sees Johnno play every almost every instrument as well as being joined by Will Harris of the superb mylittlebrother who gives guest vocals on two tracks with piano on another.
So what of the sound of Johnno? If you’re unfamiliar then you’re missing a treat. His brand of adult pop is second to none. Songs of depression and the classes, and mentions of Donald Trump and racism are wrapped in some of the most fascinating sugar coated music around. A CV of working with the likes of Adrian Sherwood and Andrew Weatherall has clearly served him well and his own brand of quirky addictive tunes has become a trademark of its own.
Often thought provoking, the tracks on his new album are possibly his best work to date. From the opening Hold No Shame, a glittering, sparkling piece of atmospheric beauty the scene is set to lead almost seamlessly into Middle Class Ways, a track which has its finger so on the pulse of many peoples feelings today that it should appeal to vast numbers of the UK. In his own way, Johnno takes no prisoners on his new album, it’s clear that he has poured vast amounts of his feelings into it – “Wim’s passing has made me doubt things and with the songs coming out of a wonky heart I hadn’t been sure they were any good at all, I allowed the depression and anxiety to get in”.
There are elements of Ian Dury tucked away too – those acute observations on real life that make us relate to them are all too commonplace, and a connection to Cassons words is easy to make. Intended or not, you might notice some similarities to classic songs too – the intro to Dumfounded may just have a nod in the direction Bowie’s Ashes To Ashes, and Strawberry Fields Forever could be tucked away in Marvellous Life a song so beautiful in its sadness that it once more marks the sign of one of our most underrated songwriters. We’ve have often praised the prowess of Johnno’s talents in these pages, and they just seem to grow and grow with each release.
First single, Bad Man is an upbeat track bouncing in pop glory, and to the other extreme Some Kid will have you feeling a lump in your throat as the tale of young man losing his life after a night out with his mates unfolds over some beautiful cello work courtesy of Claire Hollocks.
In Your Arms is a clever narrative of two boyfriends, Casson and Harris fighting over one girl. It hops and skips along with clever rhyming couplets and perfect musical interludes, and album closer I Leave It To You is a story of regret and sadness, as voice and guitar describe moments which once more leave the listener listening intently to some intelligent lyrics from an artist clearly in his ascendancy.
Somewhere, Wim Oudijk is very proud.