EP REVIEW: MAN THE LIFEBOATS- ‘Man The Lifeboats EP'(2018)

London based five piece Man the Lifeboats play raucous, upbeat folk music. Their debut EP is four songs of full-throttle, upbeat contemporary folk music to drink, dance and sing along to…

Now before i start have to admit that I never really got the Skinny Lister thing. While all around me people and friends were renting and raving about how brilliant they are I remained marooned on my desert island a lone voice against the many. Maybe it was their unbridled cheerfulness or that in the early days all their merchandise was festooned with the ‘Butchers Apron’ but I may have to have a re-think though as relatively new band on the London scene Man The Lifeboats cite them as their main influence and therefore there has to be something I am missing out on.

Man The Lifeboats left to right: Harvey Springfield- Mandolin, Electric guitar, Harmonica, Backing vocals * Rich Quarterman- Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * Daniel Gilroy- Fiddle, Stroh Violin, Penny Whistle, Backing Vocals * Sam Barker- Bass, Stompbox, Backing Vocals * David Vaughan- Drums, Percussion.

Formed in the wake of seeing Skinny Lister live in concert in 2016 this is the debut EP from Man The Lifeboats. It was recorded at Soup Studios on a floating lightship studio on the river Thames – where else! – and was produced, engineered and mixed by Ed Ripley who has worked extensively with the oft mentioned Skinny Lister.

The EP begins with ‘Doomed’ and its bouncy upbeat fast paced folk music from the first beat. Harvey’s mandolin is the most ‘in-yer-face’ instrument along with Rich’s vocals and it works perfectly. Perhaps Daniels fiddle could have been louder but that is a very minor gripe on a song that fits together perfectly. The lyrics belie the jollyness of the song as it repeats that we are doomed with the rising of the sea levels and pollution but done with lashings of humour that will raise a smile or two.

“We’re all doomed
The four horsemen are coming, we’re marooned
Time to go and colonise the moon
This is the sound of impending doom

The video for ‘Doomed’ was released last May and was the first sign that Man The Lifeboats were on the way.

This is followed up by ‘A Wasted Life’ and this song reminds me a little of my favourite bands The Housemartins. Massive at their time in the mid-80’s they are completely forgotten about now but as well as their superb agit-pop they also wrote some great ‘folk’ tunes. Again Harvey’s mandolin is to the fore and the fiddle is louder here too and with the addition of one of the most under-rated instruments in Celtic-Punk the harmonica its a great tune and with clever and insightful lyrics about the common theme, the havoc that over indulgence in alcohol can wage against us.

“Yeah
Why should I care?
I’m going down the drink
I’ll see you there
And I wouldn’t be pretending I was Hemingway or Reed
If I could write a happy ending
To this wasted life I lead”

All the songs here are written by the band but the lyrics are by Rich the vocalist and he is very much in the tradition of a singer-storyteller. The songs have an auto-biographical feel to them and all are interesting in many different ways whether he’s trying to make some political point or excuse some drunken escapade in the dark past of days gone by. On ‘My Westferry Sweetheart’ he sings of the time

“I had a sweetheart who lived down on Westferry Road
On the banks of the Victorian Thames”
The music is soft and gentle and drifts along and as Rich sings it all sounds just about perfect as it could be till he leaves us with the line

“And you know how the story ends”

Letting us know how it all ended. The EP comes to an end with ‘Molly’ and again its a story of doomed and lost love upon the streets of London. This time the music begins with the harmonica and an Irish tune which soon morphs into a straight up folk ballad with more of what will, I am sure, become well known as their trademark humour. The words fit snugly together with a series of hilarious rhymes like “But I won’t be sailing like Sir Michael of Palin”.
(live version of ‘Molly’ recorded as a three piece last year)

Its a great song and brings down the curtain on a debut EP that is a credit to them. Very London-centric and nothing wrong with that at all. London is a big place and gives plenty of scope for stories about pretty much anything. In a city of millions of people its still hard to connect with people and even harder to hang onto those we love and cherish. 

The EP came out just a couple of weeks ago on the 22nd June and the Bhoys played the EP launch party to a packed audience at the Nambuca in north London. With great tunes and a catchyness about everything they do Man The Lifeboats have their fare share of problems with band members but with a settled crew on board now they look set for further and better things. With lyrics that tell stories about real heartfelt events that raise a smile and a hackle, when needed, along with some beautiful fiddle and mandolin melodies and a stomping beat Man The Lifeboats have created a sound that is pretty unique among the London folk and punk , and folk-punk, scene. Put it all together and you are sure of a blistering live experience. You can catch Man The Lifeboats soon playing as main support to those lovable Aussie Celtic-Punk rogues The Rumjacks at the New Cross Inn in South London on Monday 6th August (check out the Facebook event for that gig here). As someone said a ‘tonic for these troubled times’.

Buy Man The Lifeboats

Spotify

Contact Man The Lifeboats

          Soundcloud

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