MJ Hibbett & the Validators – Regardez, Ecoutez & Repetez
When people say ‘mixed review’ they tend to mean that they kinda like an album, but that they aren’t entirely convinced. In this particular case however, I mean that I love fifty percent of the songs and really dislike the other fifty percent.
The previous album by this band, We Validate, was pretty fucking brilliant, to be honest. Songs like The Lesson of the Smiths, The Gay Train and The Fight for History had real emotional bite to them, and as an album of old-school indie it really was terrific.
This one is a good deal softer, both in terms of the music and the lyrics. It’s almost like the theme album to the TV series Grumpy Old Men, whereas the previous record reminded me strongly of Frank Turner’s lyric “I’m young enough to be all pissed off/ but I’m old enough to be jaded”. In some ways that might seem like a subtle distinction, but it’s surprisingly obvious in practise.
Basically, MJ Hibbett & the Validators play indie inspired by the tail end of the 80s, when the original movement which gave the genre its increasingly meaningless name was in rude health. Lyrically, the record charts the idle and less idle contemplations of a man approaching middle age, and it does so with genuine wit. So for someone like myself, who is probably in the exact same situation as Mr. Hibbett, the songs which really hit home are the ones which chime with me on a personal level. Being Happy Doesn’t Make You Stupid, Do More Eat Less, All the Good Men and We’re Old and We’re Tired are absolutely brilliant – catchy, funny as hell and touching as well, and when they’re good this is the kind of fantastic stuff this band can create.
The ones which miss, however, even in a musical sense, tend to be the ones I just don’t engage with lyrically. It Only Works Because You’re Here, Best Behaviour and My Boss Was in an Indie Band Once completely fail to hit the mark with me in terms of lyrics, but then they also seem to be the ones I can’t hum along to either. Consequently I find myself wondering if I like this album more for the wry nods or for the tunes themselves. Not that it really matters.
Some of the tracks are downright poignant – Leicester’s Trying to Tell Me Something and We Can Start Having Fun – so it’s not all wry comedy, they are a genuinely good band. But oddly on this album I feel like they’ve missed the mark surprisingly wildly on some songs, considering how squarely they’ve hit the bullseye on others.
MJ Hibbett & the Validators – We’re Old and We’re Tired (and We Want to Go Home)
MJ Hibbett & the Validators – All the Good Men