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BLAB – Eton Mess

I deleted my blog a couple of months ago. It felt futile keeping it going – and still kind of does to be honest, as nobody reads these things. Anyway; as is normal for me, I regretted doing so immediately and predictably ended up changing my mind and grovelling to WordPress. The reason why I’m saying all this is because this piece is about a song that came out back in June. I found it languishing in my drafts folder and felt it deserved to see the light of day for a few reasons: Firstly, because it’s still a tune. Secondly, because it clearly struck a chord at the time, and last but not least, just because a song is over two days old it shouldn’t necessarily mean we can no longer talk about it.

36% of UK Prime Ministers were educated at Eton College. 76% of them attended either Oxford or Cambridge. A disproportionate number of MPs also spent their formative years at Eton. In 2020 Boris Johnson spent £200,000 on renovating his apartment. In 2019, before he became PM, the Conservatives granted a government loan of £100,000 to a firm run by a US businesswoman named Jennifer Arcuri who happened to be (a) Boris Johnson’s lover, and (b) ineligible for such a grant. According to Statistica, in 2020/21 over 421,000 people used three days’ worth of emergency food from Trussell Trust foodbanks in London. That’s in London alone. Across the whole of the United Kingdom approximately 2.5 million people used a foodbank during the same period. In 2009/10 the number for the entirety of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales was 40,898. Of course, that’s 40,898 too many… but look, I’m not saying that Boris Johnson, Theresa May, and David Cameron are directly, personally responsible for such an exponential explosion of poverty and division… but, you know, they kind of are. But hey, it’s easy to get carried away with this kind of thing – especially when you work in a chronically underfunded education sector, are married to somebody who works for a housing and homelessness charity, and have a beautiful son with a range of brain abnormalities and physical obstacles to overcome that are only exacerbated by the fundamental unfairness of a society devised and meticulously molded by these compassionless fuckers for personal gain above all else. I don’t know though; maybe it’s too much to ask for somebody who was educated at a private school that cost their parents £48,501 per year to consider that nurses need to be able to afford a place to live and to feed their children. Anyway…

This isn’t the first time I’ve found myself compelled to yammer on about Southend-on-Sea’s BLAB – also known as Frances Murray, and undoubtedly one of the most exciting acts in Essex anywhere right now. Signed to Cool Thing Records (naturally) and championed by the likes of 6 Music and John Kennedy, it was the brilliant R.I.P that first jumped out at me back in August. Since then she’s released the even-better Casual Sex, and – most recently – the feral psych-punk-pop gem, Eton Mess.

If you’ve stuck around this far then I’m sure you have a good idea of what the latter song is about. In lesser hands this type of subject can be either really clunky or preachy, but Murray is great at keeping things simple and direct – and that’s exactly what this is. In a good way. Like its two predecessors, Eton Mess is hook upon hook upon hook, and it’s kind of impossible to resist. I particularly love the ragged guitar and its four-chord turnaround in the verses, the urgency of the drums, her general couldn’t-give-less-of-a-fuck-what-you-think vibe, and the backing vocals that have more than a hint of Modern Life is Rubbish Blur about them. Is there anybody doing this kind of thing better than BLAB right now? I don’t think so.

Oh, and while you’re there, check out its follow-up, Insurance, too.

You can find BLAB on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

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