Baxter Dury - The Night Chancers
2d ago (updated 1d ago)
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A new gem from our favourite English dandy, "The Night Chancer" offers an amazing walk between gutter funk and shallow indie pop. On the protest side of the British chessboard, there are the IDLES, on the other there is the poetic Baxter Dury, two aspects of the same culture, two facets of the same civilization, two different filthy atmospheres.

His humour, his way of not singing while singing, his sibylline poetry, his natural indolence which borders on casualness without falling into the pretencious "laissez-faire, I don't care" approach, make Baxter an unavoidable Indie pop figure (especially in France). A sort of David Bowie of the suburbs wearing a wrinkled suit. The guy you'd expect to meet, standing at the bar on the corner, siphoning off a glass of refreshing rosé. Baxter Dury is authentic. His music is not fantasized, he doesn't dream it by proxy, he embodies it and sublimates it without any cosmetic effect. Once again, he is able to approach all forms of popular music while preserving his own sound aesthetics and scathing songwriting.

If Baxter Dury is not the most incredible singer of his generation, with vocal performances sometimes quite limited, he is on the other hand one of the most formidable storytellers we have at the moment. Oh, not epic and powerful stories like the Nick Cave's ones, but rather the kind of little vignettes that the great Ray Davies knew how to create in the best era of the Kinks: a very simple but very accurate description of the state of society, or even of the human condition in this society. But the particularity of Baxter Dury's narrative art is his perfect mastery of the inner monologue, which allows him to recreate in a truly astonishing way the moods of his characters, to share with us in a few words the disaster of an existence or the simple mediocrity of banal thoughts. And this is GREAT ART!

Take "I'm not your Dog" for example, this excellent intro with melancholic electronic tints: "Some people like to show / Some people like to watch / I watch a bit too much / You show too much"... It's hard to make it simpler but also more efficient in the description of a love relationship meant to be ephemeral. Paradoxically, "Je ne suis pas ton chien" ("I'm not your dog") replaced the Stooges' "I wanna be your dog", being punk or not is no longer the question. This song, as short as it is perfect, clearly explains where the album's stakes are going to be: love relationships, this contemporary battlefield of post-modern societies. Dumped by his girlfriend at the time of "Miami" (the album that revealed him to the French audience), Baxter has taken his place in the game of seduction and humiliation, and he will tell us in detail all his strangest experiences or ideas...

... As in the extraordinary "Carla's got a boyfriend", who sees him spying on, and maybe even harassing his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend: "Carla's got a boyfriend / Bit of designer hair / Sloppy facial looks / Carla's got a boyfriend / I might take care of him, to be honest / ... / Carla's got a Problem / Carla's got a Boyfriend / He looks like me ". Of course, it's infinitely funny, but in a way that's as sensual as it is profoundly sordid... which is exactly where Baxter Dury excels: in that casual but villainous, even downright shady elegance... And Baxter never shies away from the drop of brackish water that will make the moldy vase overflow, provided the result is hilarious. He puts pre-orgasmic feminine gasps on "Samurai", never hesitating in front of a efficiently presented profanity. But above all, behind the humor deployed like a shield, he looks in front of the reality of Love and Sex: it's not brilliant, but it doesn't matter in the end, since he can pilfer a few seconds of pleasure. And since we can also dance to these sexy and dramatic songs...

..Dancing, yes : because "The Night Chancers", sees Baxter Dury going more frankly for the groove than before... And enriching the sound palette of his songs with new instruments (the sax on "Hello, I'm Sorry"), new experiences (when the narrator almost adopts a hip-hop flow on "The Night Chancers"...).
Yet, at the end, I have to go back to where I started this review : to the words, to the stories, which are really the essence of Baxter Dury's Art, music being finally only a support. "Say Nothing", the last song of this record bordering squarely on the "concept-album", then gives us the best news ever: "Baxter loves you! ».

We love you too, Baxter! We love you!

Best tracks: "Not Your Dog", "Slumlord", "Saliva Hog", "Sleep People", "Carla's Got A Boyfriend", "The Night's Chancers", "Say Nothing".

Worst track: "Daylight"
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