"To the sound of the World of Twist, you leaned over and gave me a kiss....". They coulda been contenders? Well, possibly, though there's something a bit playful and wilful about WOT, something which prevents you seeing them as chart heavyweights, no matter how ticklish that idea is. On the other hand, you'd have said much the same of Pulp, back then. And if any band has to stand here as a representative of indie flash-in-the-pandom, there are few more likeable candidates than the World Of Twist.
As the Saint Etienne lyric above implies, World Of Twist were scenesters of a kind, fitting into that referential, reverential skein of English pop which combines the standard retro indulgences with a richer seam of metropolitan eccentricity and ennui. In the 60s, they'd have ended up Joe Meek proteges. In the 80s, they'd have fitted perfectly on to Tot Taylor's Compact Records. Which is to say that beneath their odd costumes and biographical games beat devoted pop hearts. That's not necessarily enough, as the foppishly tedious career of late-90s equivalent David Devant has oh-so-amply proved. But with WOT - ghastly acronym - there's a synthed-out motorik sweat to take the ironic edge of things, courtesy of the band's baggy-era Northern Soul revivalism. On the CD Single of "Sweets" , for example, you find the urgent, dippily sinister "The Storm" , a floorfiller for a phantom Casino.
"Sweets" itself is gorgeous, one of the great lost Britpop singalongs, bouncing along on a then-modish, now-quaint beat, sung in a preposterously breathy fashion: terrific fun. It's dead clumsy, a grinny, enthusiastic rush of bongos and echoes and tacksome keyboard strings. It's like the Happy Mondays made out of balsa wood and sticky-backed plastic, and it works a charm. The whole song is corny, and the corniest and very best bit is the half-beat gap as we swing into the last chorus - "When I look at you, I get - ba-bom - such a feeling": when Saint Etienne's hipster lovers kissed, that's what they were listening to.
I must dig up my WOT album again! I think if I was doing this again "Sons Of The Stage" would nudge it over "Sweets" but I agree with everything I say in the third paragraph - it really is a great, awkward bit of (Brit)pop. Happy with this entry in general, in fact!
Must play "The Storm" next Poptimism, too.
BLUFF ALERT! I have never heard anything on "Tot Taylor's Compact Records" and am slightly astonished that I even knew what they were.