The Voluntary Butler Scheme: At Breakfast, Dinner, Tea

~ Friday, 31 July 2009
The VBS are Stourbridge’s Rob Jones delivering pop music at its best in a quaint and incredibly simple way. Pop eccentricity oozes sumptuously out of his pores. Best of all, it arrives in the Kinks, Bonzo Dog Band, Blur envelope. This is modern British bubblegum. This is ice cream vans and Trumpton and Camberwick Green. Sid James whizzing by in a go kart in Carry on Girls. This is an Alan Bennett play, the shipping forecast on Radio 4 and rueful sea side kisses in the pouring rain. Jones clearly has an ear for the pop song and I’ll wager has a fantastic vinyl collection.

Songs like Trading Things In encapsulates a bubblegum sound Goffin and King or Boyce and Hart would die for. Tobasco Sole could be racing up the hit parade. That’s if there still was a Top of the Pops. The VBS remind me of quintessential quirky British pop groups and sitting down to watch XTC or Pulp or The Smiths delighting in the knowledge that their job is to perform pop music that makes us smile. There are shades of The Rutles Neil Innes goofing out as Lennon with in Alarm Clock. On Hot Air Balloon, there are familiar echoes of Nilsson.

This is a pop jigsaw that unashamedly sounds in part like so many classic pop pieces. Jones is like a curator of an old pop museum unashamedly moulding new classics from the discarded bits and pieces and bric a brac and all with a carefree attitude. Yes, there are loads of old snapshots and very familiar little snippets of pop music along the way but they all come together nicely to deliver a great lo-fi experience. Pop music is simple. Don’t take it too seriously. Go get the kettle on.

A star is born.

[][][][] (4/5) - Review by Charlie Brown