Thursday, February 22, 2024

The Galileo 7 – ” You, Me and Reality”

As is required by any band operating out of Kent, England, The Galileo 7 have released a preposterous number of albums and singles. They’re not fiends in the Billy Childish category you understand, but nevertheless, ‘You Me and Reality’ is their eighth (it might be their ninth – they’re that kind of band) long-player in the last 15-ish years and their third on Damaged Goods.

Allan Crockford’s creds speak for themselves – periods as bassist and occasional vocalist in The Prisoners; James Taylor Quartet and the alarmingly overlooked Solarflares alongside others have not only led him to an almost casual mastery of songwriting but an appreciation of a good tune from whichever rock it lives under. Now shifted to nearer the middle of the stage, adding two strings and taking on lead vocals, he is surrounded by his wife, Viv Bonsels (vocals, organ, percussion), Paul Moss (vocals, bass), and Mole (vocals, drums), together creating an energetic snapshot of sixties pachouli-huffing swinging psych which dodges the trap of treating music like it’s a Latin lesson.

Despite being recorded as and when lockdown allowed, the spirited unbridled joy of their new album is almost shocking. The zigzagging riff and elbowing organ on opener ‘Can’t Go Home’ cling to Crockford’s coattails as his garage romp galumphs carefree through fields of buttercups. There’s just about space in the revelry for a couple of choruses and some “doo-doo-doos” before Shephard tones lead us into the title track. Again, the verses are as delicious as the choruses, there’s never a feeling that they’re padding out a song before they get to the bit they really want to share with you.

Their personal and geographical links to such giants of garage and beat music lead you to, incorrectly, assume they have a DIY arrogance which seeps into both the music and their attitude. Many garage and psych acts let you in on their world but always at a distance – you’re expected to be privileged to be able to peek into the chaos of their world but only as an observer. The experience of listening to The Galileo 7 feels like they’re inviting you along to wherever they’re going. The songs are there as gifts to enjoy, not talismanic relics to glimpse at before they’re shuttled away.

‘A Quiet Place’ isn’t quiet but has a little more introspection. It never drags its heels to congratulate itself, instead chucking out chiming chords and singalong refrains. Moles’ drumming is perfectly judged, clattering and driving along the track unobtrusively in equal measure. Likewise, Bonsel’s organ fills are there for the benefit of the song, not simply for the sake of inclusion. Moss’s bass adds a necessary depth that keeps this well away from the jangle jungle frippery that lesser bands could lose themselves in. Perhaps to be expected, ‘Slow Down’ speeds up as the track progresses, as if they shouting instructions to bystanders from a runaway train fuelled by cough medicine.

‘I Know What I Know’ keeps up the pace but has a more angular attack, jerking you away from any temptation to gently bob your head along to it. ‘Rain is Falling’ is the first time I feel the foot is eased off the pedal. This allows us to savour some slightly chilling vocal harmonies and an all-too-brief guitar solo. In other hands, this track could’ve been sped up into a garage stomp but the unusual arrangement turns it into an odd beast which adds a different dimension to the album.

‘Seen Somehow’ is a full-on psych fog-out, almost like a sermon delivered at pace to mushroom-whacked devotees. Had this been King Gizzard or Thee Oh-Sees you’d be dragged out of the sumptuous stupor by overproduction and backslapping – here, it’s an organic, sinuous thing to behold. ‘Blind Eyes Open’ is perhaps the album’s only misfire – a track which lacks the invention, deliriousness and energy of the others. ‘The Man Who Was Thursday’ picks up the baton, the organ in particular adding some colour and shade whilst the rest of the band really show off their musical chops.

‘Lazy’ is as soporific as you’d imagine, but turns left at Strawberry Fields into an alleyway filled with darker possibilities. A real grower. ‘A Simple Man’ is a slightly folkier track, though elevated from ponderousness by an over-excited rhythm section, and leads into the album closer, ‘Something in your Eyes’ a Turtles-y anthem with a structure which drags you all over the shop from handclaps to “baa-baa-ba-ba” singalongs to an instrumental meltdown. I doubt the sixties was ever as good as The Galileo 7 make it sound, but it’s a nice thought.

Daz Lawrence

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