For a brief period in the mid-late 1990s, Sunderland teenagers Kenickie were the greatest pop band in the world. The band, fronted by now-National TreasureTM Lauren Laverne were super-smart, ferociously witty, unbearably talented when it came to crafting perfect pop hooks and generally far too clever for their own good.
What tends to be less remembered about this band was that Kenickie's songs - yep, even the fizzy, 'happy' ones about going out on the lash with your mates - were drenched in a particular and deep melancholy.
Maybe it's because I was also a teenager when Kenickie were my favourite band that this weird, subtextual sadness resonated so hard with me, but I haven't heard it in that much music since. But I did hear it in the solo music of Johnny X aka Pete Gofton, Lauren's brother and token boy one in the band.
Pete's early solo records under the name of J Xaverre were comprised of deeply lovely bedroom pop that mainlined that abstruse wistfulness blurring the edges of Kenickie songs into affecting mood sketches.
On this collection, under his current operating name of The All Golden, Pete revisited the bags and bags of incomplete four-track demos he accumulated throughout the 90s and beyond, and finally sprinkled in some much-delayed finishing touches.
This weird seance with his younger self sees teenage pop star Pete and grown-up dad Pete communing to produce atmospheric, fuzzy instrumentals that skirt around lo-fi, ambient and post-rock modes, though traces of his production work on Kenickie's generally under-appreciated and sometimes downbeat second album, Get In, gleam through the analogue murk.
When Pete finally does introduce vocals on second-side opener Thabks, his voice is pulling against a tide of tape hiss. It blends with fuzz guitar and your head swims, woozy with melody and texture. Lake City Quiet Pills has that ambience you miss from early Mogwai and Arab Strap, when they were at their most tender and bruised.
Lovely, noisy-gentle music that somehow retains the genuine wonder of discovering what you can do with a tape recorder and some instruments for the first time.
Praise for Pete Gofton:
"Britain’s one-man Flaming Lips..." - Now Toronto
"...an utterly charming collection of teenage and twentysomething four-track recordings, finally given the finishing touches." - Electronic Sound