It’s not every band that you can swear by. To the contrary, forming a partisan relationship with a band – really barracking for them, believing in them – seems a rare treat nowadays, given our unprecedented access to music. The middle of the road is a mutant form of pest that requires tireless persistence to evade, but there are still bands – among whom Naked on the Vague are peers – who deserve close scrutiny, personal footnotes, pencil-case scrawlings and tireless, vitriolic debates with naysayers. You can and should lose friends over this band.
Lucy Phelan and Matthew Hopkins sound legitimately scary together. ?Chitty Chat? is a caustic, barely-conceived pop song gushing at its split seams with filthy, sourceless noise. The relentlessly quick and artificial percussion sounds as if it continues ad infinitum somewhere in a vacuum – existing on a frequency this duo only occasionally happen upon. Once found, they endeavour to sully it as brutally and efficiently as possible.
Phelan’s caterwauling is haunted by the oozing, reverberated baritone of Hopkins, and together they are sexless and malevolent. There is a primal energy here that sounds channelled, unreined, as if it’s pouring forth and exhausting its intermediaries. Indeed, where shit bands sound like they’ve drafted their songs to within an inch of the ?Chicken Tonight? theme, fucking amazing bands like NOTV cheat their way through instinct, buckling to the pressures of the moment. ?Chitty Chat? has been rendered in different forms live but the documented version here could hardly be considered ?official?, because the strict dogma of rendition means diddly squat where true art is involved.
It’s a shame that tradition and craft appears the predominant occupation of the mainstream indie scene. Here is a band where investment of belief is imperative and endlessly rewarding. Every young person with a cross to bear should hear, and believe in, this music. Some folk will fork out for the pretty looking artefact, play it once or twice and slot it in among their other collectible 7? singles – of course, the way NOTV disseminate their music appeals to collectors, trainspotters, dilettantes. Here’s a challenge though: play Chitty Chat over and over again, cherish it like you would the classics, and that’s exactly what it will become. Because that’s what it sounds like to me.