11 Sept 2011
Jez Kerr - Numb Mouth Eat Waste album review 
2011 sees ACR celebrate their 33-and-a-third birthday party with a show in Manchester, which might seem an odd and inappropriate time to release a parallel project and your first solo debut, but that’s precisely what the iconic band’s front-man is doing in September. This is the year of the first Jez Kerr album.

Numb Mouth Eat Waste consists of ten atmospheric tracks that might never have seen the light of day on an ACR album or single, but understandably don’t sound particularly at odds with its creator's previous creative output. Conversely, the opening salvo of Rip You Right Back, first single Play Sumthing Fast and the roughly trumpet-spattered Help Me, have rather more in common with the more recent outbursts of Wire than ACR – sharp guitar thwacking, biscuit-tin drums and distorted basslines all topped off with unsubtle arrangements, not so far removed from their Object 47 and Red Barked Tree sets.

But it’s from the remainder of Kerr’s intriguing album where jewels can be discovered and nuggets can be mined. The bassist’s previous forte has been with plaintive, pretty yet atmospheric vocals – think Flight, think The Big E, think Knife Slits Water and think Choir - and on this album, you get similar, minus the bigger sometimes Martin Hannett-flavoured arrangements. Inland, a minimal sample-laden twitchy funk-a-logue with Kerr’s softly-uttered lyrics, sets the scene. The potty-mouthed and almost poppy Sum Space, also possesses a different approach with the writer presenting exclamations like, “Thick as a brick, so says me / I don’t know shit / so says me” - he won't win Pulitzers with that coupling, but it’s honest.

So then, gone is the strident Mancunian confidence, or so it would seem, but lock onto the album’s fantastic centrepieces in the middle of the album and all is even better. Reason I Feel Like An Alien is the standout on this album, beautifully sung, exquisitely played and triumphantly arranged - if Kerr fails to stick this under radio stations' noses, I can only presume he has better in his canon, or he's mad - it's a corker. No Left Shoe and Technicolor Dawn (next single) fill out the middle of the album, both charged with quirky breaks, back-in-the-daze basslines and rolling beats and both bass-heavy with whispered lyrics and minimal trickery.

Ultimately, Numb Mouth Eat Waste is all about Kerr stretching out from the confines and conformity of a group and exploring a world of experimental and esoteric soundtracks, created within a ring-fence of mates and a reputation for cranking out a solid show.

8 out of 10

Album review by Paul Pledger (cheers Paul)

Numb Mouth Eat Waste is out on 12 September 2011 via Higuera Records (digital download)

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