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  The Fideilty Wars  
  Belka Records (original release on Too Pure)  
Release Date:
  2.June.2008 (original release date:  21.September.1999)  
Reviewed by:
  Indoor Miner  

Lloyd Cole blamed David Bowie. It was his fault, Lloyd reckoned, that artists of a certain age felt the need to try and come up with a new direction each album, rather than concentrate on what they're best at. Not that Lloyd even made a leap as big as Bowie made from, say, Station To Station to Low, but he had a point. I'm all for change and artists evolving, but it doesn't suit everyone.

I mention this because Hefner mainman (no Bowie pun intended) Darren Hayman clearly doesn't see the point in change for change sake. He does what he does. Indeed his most recent album, Darren Hayman & The Secondary Modern, sounds remarkably like this re-issued set from 1999. There are no big leaps in style or anything like that. It's just an album full of simple songs and intelligent lyrics. Initially, I was going to write that not all the songs on this re-released set are as good as the more recent ones, and point out that, like a lot of craftsman, Hayman has got better at his craft – songwriting – over the intervening years. Hayman, however, has a knack of writing songs that worm their way into your head and it transpires that The Fidelity Wars is no exception. Well, that spoilt that through thread in my review!

The opening track, The Hymn For The Cigarettes, is a case in point. It sounds rather underwhelming on the first couple of listens and then all of a sudden you find yourself joining in as Hayman sings "I loved to see the girl smoke in my bed". I Took Her Love For Granted is another jaunty little number, whilst The Weight Of The Stars opens with a Shirelles-like intro and Don't Flake Out On Me has a chorus that definitely deserves a mention. There's also some endearing and heartfelt ballads such as The Hymn For The Alcohol, Every Little Gesture, and Fat Kelly's Teeth with its reflective "In the cold sober light she's not nearly so pretty, but if I drink more gin…" account of an unsavoury night. Highlight of the album, however, is undoubtedly We Were Meant To Be, which has a real Dexys-like feel and not just because of the horns that emerge halfway but also because Hayman indulges in some definite Kevin Rowland-like falsetto yelping. It's got a great tune, too, and one that didn't just sink in quickly with me. My 9 year old son loved it straight away, too, and has now declared that it's fourth favourite ever record!

Like the post-split Catfight release, it could be argued that this CD could do with some pruning as there are also numerous b-sides and EP tracks tagged on the end. And while it's interesting to hear the four track and rehearsal versions on disc two, it's probably fair to say that only the most ardent fans are going to want to play them on anything resembling a regular basis, though Beach Boys completists may like to know that there's a rather rough cover of You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone nestling amongst the Hefner originals. There's also some rather endearing sleevenotes courtesy of Hayman, where he says these songs loosely told the story of him falling in love and splitting up with a girlfriend. There's a happy ending though as they got back together and got married.

Altogether now…


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