Sarandon | Sarandon’s Age of Reason (Slumberland)

Short, sharp songs alternate with and illuminate the ruminations of Big Trev, a man thoroughly disillusioned with the world yet harboring a secret wish to be accepted by it.

 

 

I wanted to review Sarandon’s new LP Sarandon’s Age of Reason but feared I would not be able to hurdle the Anglophile heights. I mean, really—this band’s new album came with the nearly simultaneous release of a special Age of Reason beer from Revolutions Brewing Company (http://www.revolutionsbrewing.co.uk/#/buy-beer/4544904169). But here goes; I will have a pint and try.

Sarandon’s Age of Reason is the agit-prop, underground version of a concept album. Short, sharp songs from the band alternate with and illuminate the ruminations of Big Trev, a man thoroughly disillusioned with the world yet harboring a secret wish to be accepted by it. The band’s songs in response to Trev’s rants match the big man’s complaints with commentary, encouragement, and in some cases, gentle ribs. So when Trev talks about the discouragement of the discothèque, the band answers with "Do the Dance," a song that seems to further disparage the concept by reminding Trev that this is the "dance of death." Trev’s path seems doomed, and when he laments that his name will go unremembered by history the band responds with "Dinosaur."

However, the story changes when Trev meets a girl and falls in love. Out of this comes the album’s best track, "Piglet," which revels in the joys of being liked, an experience they call "a tonic for the wind and rain." Not sure I trust them as to whether this is love or a mocking of love, but a more infectious song is impossible to imagine. Trev, cured of his doldrums, in love, finds fame and acceptance. Sarandon offers some hope, but it is a guarded hope at best. As even Trev says, all you have to do is sign away your life and use your real name. Put yourself out there and stop pretending. Is this a swipe at all those poseurs? By the end of the album Trev is the life of the party, the man everyone wants to see. There is a lesson here, perhaps to accept oneself, but I refuse to look too deeply (lest this turn into a Genesis album).

Sarandon was formed in 2003 by guitarist Crayola, otherwise known as Simon Williams. Williams was a member of the underground scene in the UK in the ‘80s. The band’s official lineup is rounded out with Alan Brown (bass) and Tom Greenhalgh (drums), but Sarandon thrives on a diverse group of guest players. This fluid nature brings the band a varied and lively sound, yet their music always sounds like Sarandon—lightning fast guitars and machine-gun lyrics. They are somewhat like Gang of Four at 78 RPM. This makes for albums that are brisk but filling. I was a big fan of their second full length, Kill Twee Pop, which came out in 2008 (their first being the amazingly ambitious Completist’s Diary in 2006). Speaking of old punks, Big Trev is voiced by The Shend, a former member of the ‘80s underground movement and most famously from The Cravats, who has gone on to a career in TV and movies. He perfectly personifies that middle-aged spread (physically and metaphorically) that the band is trying to capture on this album.

Sarandon’s Age of Reason is an enjoyable romp, though Big Trev’s transformation is rather abrupt on so short an album. But that’s how life is sometimes. Besides, we need to practice more acceptance so we can all, as Big Trev says, become “POP-u-LAR.”  B | Jim Dunn

RIYL: Gang of Four, Buzzcocks, Wire

 

About Jim Dunn 126 Articles
Jim Dunn grew up in NY in the 70s and 80s. Even though that time in music really shapes his appreciation it does not define it. Music, like his beloved history is a long intermingled path that grows, builds and steals from its past. He lives in Colorado with his lovely wife and a wild bunch of animals.

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