Back in the seventies there was a television program called the Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, built around the general premise of the main character having a mid life crisis. You could suggest that releasing your debut album when you’re in your mid-forties might be some kind of mid life crisis, but to do so would ignore Chris Anderson’s presence on the music scene in Brighton and beyond over the years. You could suggest that the title implies some kind of trip – maybe physical, maybe psychedelic – and perhaps you might be right there.
Crayola Lectern are a bit like The Beatles. But I hate it when bands are compared to the Beatles, partly because you can’t even make any sort of meaningful comparison between the band who released Please Please Me and the band who released The White Album. If you can’t even compare the band to themselves how on earth can you compare another band to them? Also the most repeated Beatles comparison of recent times has been Oasis, and Crayola Lectern are nothing like Oasis. That said, there are parts of The Fall and Rise which recall A Day in The Life or maybe Fool on the Hill. Songs from when the Beatles were at their experimental best.
You could also say that Crayola Lectern are a bit like The Durutti Column. This is another poor comparison – Vini Reilly was all about the guitar and most of the Crayola Lectern album is piano based. But there’s something about the Durutti Column’s style (which they once referred to as Avant Garde Jazz Classical) that you can hear with Crayola Lectern. Then there’s the standard of the playing, and also the wider range of influences than most music manages to encompass. Vini was never the strongest singer either, but there’s something endearing about both their deliveries which you wouldn’t want any other way.
Crayola Lectern are also a bit like Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. Actually, Crayola Lectern are probably more like the psychedelic bands of the sixties and seventies who influenced Gorky’s but at the time of my life when I was listening to Gorky’s, songs in Welsh with time signatures that changed halfway through was far out enough for me and I didn’t investigate any further. Maybe it’s time for me to invest in some Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt albums. Nevertheless The Fall and Rise’s unifying theme is the quirkiness that runs throughout, not just in some of the lyrical themes (“My goldfish died of boredom”), but also in the twists and turns that the music takes. There’s also a similarity in the gentle psychedelia which runs from start to finish, the high point of which is the album’s centrepiece Trip in D, a ten minute spiralling psychedelic epic with hypnotic guitars tuned to sound like sitars.
Most of all though, Crayola Lectern aren’t really like anyone else. You can pick out references here and there, but comparisons don’t really do justice to the defiantly wilful independence of ideas on The Fall and Rise. They don’t help describe the feelings that the album conjures so well, often shifting from one emotion to another mid-song, as naturally as our own mood changing. For some people the album may seem a challenge, but if it is then it’s a brilliantly rewarding one. One thing’s for certain – you won’t hear another album like this all year.
The Fall and Rise of Crayola Lectern is out on Bleeding Hearts Recordings on 15th April 2013. The album launch gig takes place at the Brunswick on Wednesday 17th April with support from Do You Feel What I Feel Deer. As a taster, Crayola Lectern are offering My Big Idea as a free download: