I have been pondering the position of Carter USM over the past day or so. How would I explain this duo to the uninitiated?
I could list contemporaries who played similar sorts of music – EMF, Jesus Jones, Pop Will Eat Itself. But what are the odds you’ve heard of them and not Carter?
They have an electronic element to their sound, often orchestral. So Pet Shop Boys might be in there. But it was never that calculated, clean and Euro-market-friendly.
The lyrics reveal a strong social conscience and a particualrly British sensibility. So our old buddy Billy Bragg should be in the mix.
And like Billy they get the whole punk-garage ethic thing – manifesting in samplers versus guitars. So The Clash must get a call out.
But, ultimately, they were a unique mix of all these elements and more. And this albums showcases them very well. They nail a couple of singles with ease. I was surprised to discover The Only Living Boy In New Cross was their highest charting UK single and that the album went to No.1.
It isn’t quite that good, and the Impossible Dream closer is just odd – devoid of the expected cynicism… but it all stands up otherwise.