If this one has the ring of a bygone era about it, there’s good reason for that: the band here, Artery, is a Sheffield-based unit that released three albums in the post-punk glory days of the early ’80s, then called it quits. Once upon a time championed by John Peel, they were unexpectedly nudged back into being by Jarvis Cocker, who wanted them for a festival he was curating in 2007. In 2009, the reanimated band put out an EP, their first recording since 1984.
Although they broke up (again) in 2010 when one member decided to leave (again), the band soon found a replacement and have soldiered on. And while there were too many lineup changes even in Artery’s original run to call any given configuration the definitive version of the band, this reunited ensemble is pretty authentic, featuring front man Mark Gouldthorpe and two other gents who had been in the band at one time or another back in the day.
To my ears, what they deliver is both captivating and fascinating. With its churning, old-school blend of guitars, synths, bombast, and alienation, “Standing Still” does not sound of this year, or century, even. But neither, somehow, does the song sound merely “old-fashioned” in the way a truly defunct style like, say, doo-wop does. This may relate to how much of the musical language of the new wave and post-punk eras are still spoken by rock bands in the year 2011. But I also believe Artery’s discontinued-but-vibrant sound has also to do with the fact that whoever these guys are and whatever they’ve been through, they are legitimately carrying on here in the here and now. Even as they know best the musical landscapes of early ’80s Northern Britain, they are aiming to make new music that says new things. Gouldthorpe scolds and warbles in full John Lydon mode as his mates play discernible instruments and chords—no loops or strange sampling for this crew, to be sure. It’s all rather bracing, with everything ultimately anchored by the chorus’s roiling, melodramatic chord progression, which provides the song with its unlikely instrumental hook.
“Standing Still” first surfaced on the “comeback” EP in 2009. This month, a full-fledged album arrived—Civilisation, on Twin Speed/Cherry Red Records. “Standing Still” can be found here too. MP3 originally via Artrocker Magazine.