THE PRIMITIVES - "Lovely" (RCA PD 71688) March 1988
For every one of us who cares enough to herald “Crash” as galloping perfection, there is someone else who cares enough to flinch, to hear only “99 Red Balloons” where we hear a gleam approaching paradise at gorgeous velocity. And, wriggling around with “Lovely”, it’s understandable why not everyone’s cocking their party hats at funny angles and grinning inanely.
There are some downright frustrating moments on “Lovely”, some lapses from pure nectar into lollypopland. When Tracy Tracy says she has “Nothing Left To Say” we’re hoping for Betty Boop in the blank generation but she’s too Piglet and Pooh, too Sooty’s Soo, too cute by half, too lovely dove coo. You miss the razor in the compact which would niggle until “I’ll stick With You” carried an itch of threat inside the promise.
When Tracy sings the word “cosy” and rhymes “serene” with “scream”, you can see why Morrissey championed the Primitives and propers awhile. They both inhabit a tiny world but, whereas he conspires to create “Cancer Ward” from “The Growing Pains Of Adrian Mole” through a prissily absurd process of mythologising, The Prims are too concerned with getting from A to B as swiftly as possible with all senses intact to elevate wet summer hols and soggy sandwiches into “Paradise Lost”.
Tumbling through the druggy reveries of “Out Of Reach” – Paul Simon’s “Me And Julio Back In The Schoolyard” incidentally – or puffing up pillows in slow motion to “Ocean Blue” – The Cocteaus caressing the Velvets – you can only agree with P J O’Rourke’s insistence that halucenogenics ain’t what they used to be.
For a drug record – and that’s what “Lovely” is, from the obvious “Thru The Flowers” to the dippy “Spacehead” – it’s extraordinarily safe and secure. They “Don’t Want Anything To Change”, as their song says, and even the psychedelic raga “Shadow”, with all its head references, is an exercise rather than an experience.
Compared to, say, All About Eve and their implicit plea for a better way of life, The Prims abdicate all responsibility, “Hope they get it right someday” and opt for a mild hedonism – to the brink of Hades and back in time for tea.
Still, apart from the Flintstone folly of “Buzz Buzz Buzz”, “Lovely” is candyfloss and pastel-coloured enough to turn you into a daydream believer. “Carry Me Home” is a caps in the air and somersaults on the beach Monkees B-side, “Run Baby Run” skips along merrily with its socks round its ankles and “Stop Killing Me” is abrasive enough to suggest that the blotters sometimes do more than make the walls go all funny.
Perhaps its unfair to rebuke the Prims for cowardice in the face of the cosmos. Perhaps we should laud them, instead, for sneaking little parcels of naughty noise into the classroom when the BPI’s back is turned.
Maybe the meek shall inherit the earth and maybe we’ll still be singing “Crash” when something weird like “Birthday” is gathering dust in the trunk in the attic. Still, I was looking for bolder strokes and I’m surprised (not shocked) how easy it is to retain your balance travelling at the speed of light.
(Steve Sutherland – Melody Maker, 26/03/88)