One of the most important folksingers (he’s not really a folksinger) of the late-20th and earlyish-21st (and mayhap 22nd) centuroonie has never heard of For Carnation or Basement Jaxx. (Basement who? Yeah, same here. But let’s try and keep up.) His name? Lawrence Heyward. His latest meme? Go-Kart Mozart. Last known whereabouts? Hell, or thereabouts. Kitchen-sink kult kitsch for dandyish layabouts (my specialty and raison duh’tre—visit Momus’s Web site for further elucidation, but visit at your peril; my firewalls are strong, my encryption software a Korean family named Kim), or kultur-klashing kid-stuff for Warholian jackanapeses, Instant Wigwam and Igloo Mixture (Lawrence’s latest, full to the brim but short on length), is simultaneously infuriating, annoying, confused, hilarious, and dumb. There is no reason for it to exist, and no one will ever buy it (ever!—and if you did you would feel like a big, fat idiot!). So let’s just call it art.
Twaddlepuss and prince of peas Stuart Murdoch, of Donovan cover band Belle and Sebastian (everyone in B.S. is called Stuart, by the way), swears by the legacy left by Lawrence’s band-as-art-installation Felt, and rightfully so. Felt, the greatest rock and roll band of all time (well, if you define rock and roll as I do they were the greatest: an expert collision of lounge jazz, flamenco guitar, ’60s fetishism, and the drearier vocal characteristics of Bob Dylan and Lou Reed refracted thru a prism of self-loathing and egocentric myth-making that rivals the Sistine friggin’ Chapel in pomposity), echoed one whole roomful of people’s disdain for technopop in the ’80s by naming their albums after unreadable Kerouac novellas and subscribing to an aesthetic (thanks in part to that whole Dutch East/Rough Trade/Cherry Red/Creation/Shanghai Packaging Co./Factory/Peter Saville weltschmerz going on at the time) that may have sometimes been too too, and sometimes very very, but was always precious and cerebral.
Many people (I don’t know who, so for the sake of argument, let’s say me) applauded the 360-degree turnaround and mind/body split that was Lawrence’s next project, Denim. Abandoning the chamber/drawing-room rock he perfected, and bitter at the success of no-talent scum like the Jesus and Mary Chain, he decided to become Gary Glitter and give shout-outs to council housing, job centers, Ducks Deluxe, the Hair Bear Bunch, Le Corbusier, George Best, Bell Records, dental dams, and the Osmonds. How this subject matter, coupled with rousing glam rock stylings and Lawrence’s deadpan delivery (that only rouses itself long enough to announce a synthesizer solo—much the same as Marc Bolan yelling “Rock!” right before he starts rocking), failed to win him the position of Ironist Laureate and lorries filled with fivers is anyone’s guess. I’m not just anyone, though, so here’s my guess. He was mos def on da chicory tip, and the BlurSuedePulp crowd couldn’t hang with a loon who would have made Ivor Cutler and Viv Stanshall proud.
So, whither Lawrence? (For that matter, whither your mom? The bitch owes me 10 bucks!) All I know for sure is that the Go-Kart Mozart album is a complete piece of shit. All you can do is shake your head at the idea that it’s actually playing and not just a bad dream sweated out after a night of sipping syrup and smoking Dutch Masters laced with bad boo. Wait—on second thought—it’s brilliant! (Abfab, I.M.O.—I can’t help but L.O.L. at Lol’s larf riot.)
What you get with this CD is a soundtrack to a porn flick starring Lolliwinks, Smurfs, and Teletubbies. What you get is Mandrax for minx cats, four-track recordings of e-z listless piano, synthetic flutes, relationship ballads bitter as tainted Toffifay, creepy kids, alligators rockin’ with Zulus, the queen mum’s hip operation, an ode to Wendy James (former singer for Transvision Vamp who apparently is second in coolness only to the very, very great Joan Jett), thoughts of murder, fluff on the mallow, the greatest song title yet (“Wear Your Foghat With Pride,” with the greatest lyric yet, “There’s a turgid cacophony emanating from the music biz’s backside”), synthetic banjos, synthetic string quartets, and maddening tempos that set sail with Jean Genet as he goes down on Lawrence amidst absinthe and crime. All in 30 minutes. Mad dog, Englishman, one-man band, Lawrence does everything he can with low-brow ’70s kindergarten rock to make you forget that, in his baroque youth, he was the bard and dismantled king of a throne as regal, single-minded, and gorgeous as any U.K. indie music worth remembering or celebrating.