Buffet Lunch… is there anything less COVID friendly than a queue of people picking here and there at a variety of exposed foods, all touching the same utensils to serve it, getting up for seconds (or thirds) and stuffing themselves until near bursting so they have to hold on to the table to squeeze out of their seat? Fortunately, that’s not the Buffet Lunch we’re discussing here. If the Glasgow band’s Permanent Slump released EP “Snap” was the appetiser, their new album (via Upset The Rhythm) “The Power of Rocks” is the main course.
Is that enough meal puns? I’ve not decided yet. Was that opening sentence too long? Undoubtedly!
For starters (sorry, couldn’t resist) we’re treated to ‘Red Apple Happiness’, a sax lead, jaunty yet somehow lumbering, track that jangles through it’s 3 minutes 5 seconds. It’s a charming opener. The sax line satisfyingly leans on the comical without falling over the edge.
‘Orange Peel’ sits somewhere between fellow Glasgow dwellers Kaputt, to whom there are some similarities, and The Magic Band. The yelped, almost instructive, vocals hint at a Talking Heads influence as the guitars slide and syncopate with the playful, fiddly drums.
They continue the whacky repetitive syncopation on the delightful, Stump-like, ‘Pebbledash’ before the woozy title track. ‘The Power Of Rocks’ has a meditative feel, somewhat akin to Pavement playing Spiritualized, featuring some wonderful retro guitar lines, a cheeky breakdown and harmonised backing vocals.
The following ‘Bladderwrack’ has the feel of a silly jam. The synth lines and warped guitar twangs are downright ridiculous in places. It’s quite the glorious mess.
Just when you think you have them nailed down, Buffet Lunch, throw in a surprise.
Sitting bang in the middle of the album is the beautiful ‘Ten Times’; a spacious, Broadcast-esque slow jam of every expanding plonky keyboards and an unexpected, gorgeous vocal melody. But for some of the truly warped synth sounds it almost makes you forget who you are listening to.
‘Looking at Liz Talent’s Chair’ puts us back into familiar territory. It’s position after ‘Ten Times’ accentuates it’s happy go lucky, itchy groove all the more.
‘Said Bernie’ sounds like it’s going to be more of the same but the chaotic “Listen to me, listen to me…” section provides an abrupt and giddy twist. Kind of like one of those wonderful Bearsuit freakouts. The intriguing thing about the Buffet Lunch is that there is an undercurrent of a jangly indie band, but they never fully conform. They also truly embrace abstract forms, like on the Beefhearty “It Helps to Know”. Remove the vocals and replace with a gruff snarling recluse and you wouldn’t know the difference.
‘He Wore Two Hats’ is delightful. Lyrically it’s ridiculous, and adds even more to the feeling of this being a psychotic 60s garage band. There are also elements of Deerhoof in the playful hooks and time change ups.
We’ve made room for dessert, and ‘Ashley’s New Haircut’ is a satisfyingly sweet ending. Those gorgeous Broadcast melodies return, backed by dreamy subtle drones, an almost constant watery popping sound and the kind of sweet atmospherics bands like Super Furry Animals became so adept at.
Buffet Lunch are just as infectious as their mealtime namesake. They have expanded their sound on their debut album, embracing space and melody to great effect, and it really works for them.
With such an abundance of talent they can go anywhere from here… once everyone’s allowed to go out again.
You may enjoy this if you like: Kaputt, Captain Beefheart, Talking Heads, Stump
The Power of Rocks is out 7th May via Upset The Rhythm. Pre-order.
Listen to the opening track ‘Red Apple Happiness’ here: