As September set out its departure, UK indie rockers The Speed of Sound unveiled their fifth album, Museum of Tomorrow. It comes exactly 32 years to the day the Manchester outfit released their debut full-length and swiftly proves that though the line-up and sound has evolved release by release, the power of the band’s infectious melodic captivation shows no sign of waning.
The Speed of Sound cast a sound merging sixties pop and eighties new wave nurtured enterprise with a punk/post punk edge and confrontation. The likes of The Byrds, Small Faces, The Chords, Siouxsie and the Banshees and XTC are cited as influences to the quintet though for us Museum of Tomorrow and its inescapable individuality has an air akin to a mix of Martha and the Muffins, The Raincoats, Girls at Our Best! and Sonic Youth. The release is a blaze of punk/new wave/indie pop contagion with a hunger for broader adventure within its futuristically nurtured retro bred landscape.
Consisting of father and son John Armstrong (guitars and vocals) and Henry Armstrong (keyboards), Ann-Marie Crowley (vocals and guitar), Kevin Roache (bass guitar) and John Broadhurst (drums), The Speed of Sound immediately get down to rich persuasion and virulent captivation with opener Tomorrow’s World. From the first clang of guitar, the song was manipulating hips and feet with its joyous swing. Equally thoughts and imagination found themselves provoked by the track’s reflection on the deceit of unveiling reality opposed to the glorious suggestion the future persistently offers ahead of time. It all makes for a roar of rousing enterprise and infectious despondency setting the album off in fine style.
Latest single, Opium Eyes, follows, it too an esurient slice of pop ‘n’ roll with a power pop meets post punk infestation with the united tones of John and Ann-Marie leading the dextrous invasion. Barely contemplating let alone touching the two minutes mark the song proved unbridled temptation and orchestration of the body and senses, leaving both thickly satisfied before Smokescreen sprung its own resourceful contagion. There is a slight Pylon like discord to the track which quickly had ears hooked, as its predecessors, with a clamorous catchiness which only had its way.
Its departure on a sonic strand immediately brings in successor Zombie Century, a track striding in with attitude and intent whilst wrapped in the keenly beguiling and suggestive keys of Henry. Mixing portentousness with seduction, the song relishes the invention and variety in the band’s sound, itself a canvas for the imagination while Wired And Tired saunters in with an infectiously compelling air of intimation around a breath of starker reflection.
As Virtual Reality (Part 2) shared its evocative lament and Shadow Factory weaved its realm of dark corners and sonic intrigue, the album only hooked the imagination with fuller temptation. The latter especially fired up the passions, Henry’s keys baring a great Dave Greenfield-esque hue to their progressive exploration; that thicker hold only enriched by the Television meets B52’s hued Impossible Past and Leaf Blower with its funk nurture stroll. Both songs stretch the variety and tempting of the release and a sound continually showing itself as agile and sharp-witted.
Though Blood Sweat And Tears did not fire up the passions as feverishly as the pair before it, the track courted sure attention and satisfaction before Charlotte had both devouring its dark suggestion and post punk intrigue, the track a drama of dilemma and captivation taking favourite song honours though that was soon rivalled by The Passions meets Throwing Muses like The Day The Earth Caught Fire; it too a theatre of eager temptation and drama.
With the irresistible apocalyptic swing of Last Orders bringing Museum of Tomorrow to an addictive close, the album left a lingering beckoning which we have yet to resist. The Speed of Sound spins webs of nostalgia and new adventure within a record which like an itch keeps luring attention; a scratch which we suggest you will also welcome.
Museum of Tomorrow is out now via Big Stir Records; available digitally, on CD and Deluxe LP.
Pete RingMaster 30/09/2021
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