John Barry sound-tracking an imaginary scene from 'The President's Analyst' where James Coburn is engaged in a game of three dimensional tag-team chess with 007, Pierre Cardin and The Persuaders…yeah, that was Corduroy the way we used to know them. But not any longer.
" I think the defining moment for this album came before we'd even walked into the studio" explains Ben Addison. "We'd just been on tour in Japan and just before we were due to come home we did an interview where someone asked us where we thought the band would be going to next. At that point I had no idea but I knew we were going to have to make a break with the past in some way and embrace technology to the full. I just said, 'All I know is that the first single will be called 'Moshi Moshi' because everywhere you go in Tokyo that's what you hear whenever anybody picks up the phone. It's almost as if a new language is developing as communication around the world speeds up."
To details, then. 'Clik!' - the bands fifth album - finds Corduroy taking the blueprint of their previous four outings (deep breath: 'Dad Man Cat', 'High Havoc', 'Out of Here', 'The New You') and launching it into cyber-space. The beatnik eccentricity from their debut, (which incidentally prompted the attention of long time admirer, Cornelius way back in 1993) is still there but now exhibits the sheen of producer Rob Playford (Goldie).
Conceptually, everything is still in place, it's just that having pre-empted everything from lounge to brit-pop to the leisure-age 'Space 1999' chic of Air, they've stepped into sync with the times instead of racing slightly ahead.
"Before we did our first gig we said let's be the band in the party scene in every film we've ever liked, and of course, before too long, there's goatee beards and fluffy waistcoats everywhere. But musically our influences were always 70s television music from both sides of the water crossed with rare groove. And of course that has meant that the four of us have been making music that in some cases was being performed originally by collectives of eighty people."
From which point it's been a 'Bullitt'-style car chase of a journey; from well received acid jazz heads, (the group are inevitably massively popular in Japan and Scandinavia) to Britpop curios, (they played Blur's watershed Ally Pally show at the band's behest) to cultural magpies extraordinaire (most hilariously on their pre-Primal Scream take on 'Motorhead' way back in '93).
Not that such eclecticism has deserted them this time around. Ranging from the pure pop rush of the first single 'Moshi Moshi' to the turbo-charged 'Goddamn', 'Clik!' takes in everything from rare-groove seductiveness ('Thing For Your Love' and 'The Lawgiver Bleeds') to cosmic pop ('Safety Light', 'New Seeker') and a full-blown guitar wig-out, 'Play Loud'. And that's before you get to the age-of Aquarius goes Bladerunner throb of 7minute 40 epic 'Future High Street'
It's still Corduroy, but not how it felt before. The trademark obsessions with film music and gentleman's sci-fi fashions are as to the fore as ever (how could they not be?) but the over-all sound feels like the soundtrack to five minutes in the future instead from, say, 'Coogan's Bluff'.
"Oh yeah…" agrees Ben. "We're still into the whole helicopters over San Francisco aspect, how can you not be? We've always wanted to reflect that feeling you get when you see someone jump onto the roof of a car going 100 miles an hour…"
The only thing is, this time around, it's speeding straight out of the screen and right into your life. Sort of like the sound of the future ringing.
With thanks to Paul Moody