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The Speed of Sound - A Cornucopia: Minerva (Big Stir Records)

29 April 2024

A 3-record set available only in physical form? Man, it’s like the seventies all over again. But before you run off to check to see if your purple, crushed velvet, loon pants still fit, let me stop you there. For now, at least, we are faced only with one album, namely Minerva, the first third of the deluxe box set to follow (which will be joined by Victory and Bounty (bonus points for those who have made the connection.) The band in question is Manchester’s The Speed of Sound so the music leans more towards pop-infused sophistication and punky energy than anything proggy or paisley patterned. And if I have suggested that the music is anything but the product of the here-and-now, then I must apologize.

And so it is that across fourteen tracks, The Speed of Sound works its eclectic magic. “The West Wind” is a Hendrix-vocal drawl leading a punk-blues groove whilst a horn section performs a sonic, shamanic ritual in the near-distance and “SS-100-X” is Lou Reed gone folk. “The Harvest” is the sort of song that Nick Cave might have come up with if he worked as chief troubadour at the court of Henry V, whilst “Bodysnatchers” tips its hat to the likes of Elvis…make that Costello rather than Presley. And if “Clickbait” is the sort of sound that punk should have been about had it been less sneering and aloof and taken a leaf out of the Pop Pickers Playbook, then “So Faux” is just…odd. And I mean that in the very best of ways.

Although digital versions of the three albums that will make up the box set will be available down the line, this is a physical-only release for now. This release coincides with the band’s 35th anniversary, but more than that, the songs, based on Minerva at least, are going to be some of the most fun and frantic, optimistic and lyrical, deft and dexterous songs you have heard in a while. Any balanced, respectable and discerning music fan worth their salt will want to add these to their physical record collection. Music fans like you!

A Cornucopia: Minerva CD & vinyl order
Get the ‘West Wind’ single