Would-Be-Goods - The Morning After

matcd032  /  August 2004
Would-Be-Goods - The Morning After
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Would-Be-Goods - The Morning After

matcd032  /  August 2004

The Would-Be-Goods are back, their eccentric and evocative guitar pop honed by two years of live performance. Jessica Griffin, enigmatic star of eighties cult label él, is still at the helm, with her crew of elegant rascals - Peter Momtchiloff, guitarist (Talulah Gosh, Razorcuts, Heavenly, Scarlet's Well) and occasional songsmith; Debbie Green, drummer and darling of the London nineties garage scene (Headcoatees); and Lupe Nuñez-Fernandez, bass player and co-founder of cosmopolitan East London quietists Pipas. These twelve songs demonstrate that the Would-Be-Goods have lost none of their melancholy charm or wit but have moved beyond the ornate eclecticism of their acclaimed third album 'Brief Lives' (2002) to a classic guitar pop sound ranging from new folk ('Bluebeard') through tango (the poignantly funny 'Too Old') to garage rock ('Miss La-di-dah'). Love songs to lions, frolics in the Garden of Eden, French casanovas and personal demons await you. Let the Would-Be-Goods be your guides.

  1. Pantomime Devil
  2. The Morning After
  3. Bluebeard
  4. Big Cat Act
  5. Le Crocodile
  6. Too Old
  7. What Adam and Eve Did Next
  8. I Broke the Spell
  9. The King of Lace
  10. Miss La-di-dah
  11. Innocent Abroad
  12. Dear St Valentine


From her beginnings on the cult 1980s label él, Jessica Griffin has run (if that's not too active a word) her pop career with a delightful lack of interest in selling records. By now, 16 years in, you're either a confirmed admirer of her occasional appearances as the Would-Be-Goods - this is only her/their fourth album - or you've never heard of her. I suspect that her work-rate is dictated not just by whim but also by a canniness that calculates when the public is ready for another shot of upper-crust vowels tremulously wrapping themselves (sometimes in French) around lyrics that provide a glimpse of how the other 1% live. Her moment is here again, and the semi-acoustic The Morning After is, as ever, charming from start to finish. Griffin writes from the perspective of a solidly encoupled fortysomething Londoner, every syllable heavy with received-pronunciation regret. It's amazing how much ennui can be invested in the lines "Too old for rock'n'roll/ Too old for long straight hair/ Too old to walk around in sexy underwear". Though one is arguably never too old for long straight hair, Griffin says her piece, and 11 more like it, with wit and style.   --The Guardian
The heartening comeback of the Would Be Goods continues full-bore with the release of the wonderfully melodic and literate 2004 album The Morning After. Once again Jessica Griffin teams with ex-Heavenly guitarist Peter Momtchiloff and his ringing tones and fluid solos give Griffin's character studies some gritty texture. Also on board on the record are ex-Headcoatee Debbie Green on drums and vocals and Lupe Nunez-Fernandez on bass and vocals. They provide rock solid rhythms and rich vocal harmonies that give the record a boost that Brief Lives could have used. Griffin's pretty but incisive vocals are the main focus of the band and she never lets down the side, sweetly crooning the ballad "Bluebeard," slinking through the groovy French rocker "Le Crocodile," archly delivering "Miss La-Di-Dah" and swaying gently along with the bossa of "Innocent Abroad". It is blue moon rare for a band to make one decent comeback record, to make a second that is even better than the first is unheard of, unless you are listening to this that is. The Morning After is a miniature gem that indie pop fans should add to their collection right away. It won't end up on too many year-end lists but you would be hard pressed to find a better indie pop record in 2004.   --All Music Guide
Fans of French chansons, El Records, twee pop and female folk singers have long been in love with Jessica Griffin's Would-Be-Goods. Her delicately delivered vocals over bitter-sweet guitar pop songs are rendered all the more sublime by her band of highly experienced hands, who can list prior or present membership of Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, Headcoatees and Pipas between them. The best tracks are clustered in the middle, notably the French-sung guitar fuzz of 'Le Crocodile,' the femme fatale lyrics on 'Too Old,' and guitarist Peter Momtchiloff's 'What Adam And Eve Did Next.' It's been out six months already, but given that The Morning After is only Would-Be-Goods' fourth album in seventeen years, immediacy is clearly not an issue here.   --iJamming!
It may appear an odd comparison but the twee indie scene seems to be somewhat akin to the mafia. Once you join, there’s just no way of getting out alive. Thus, with almost 40 years experience between them Jessica Griffin and Peter Momtchiloff, along with their fellow Would-Be-Goods, continue to produce joyful jangles and mournful meanderings for the shy, sensitive masses. If you’re still hoping for that long-awaited hip-hop conversion then look away now. It may be lazy and overused but the most obvious comparisons lie with Peter’s former band Heavenly, albeit with snippets of Broadcast thrown in. Where his previous paramour Amelia Fletcher’s voice is still full of a coy, girlish thrill, Jessica’s is imbued with an almost-Gallic air of sophistication and chanteuse sensuality. Jessica plays up to their stalwart status on the delightfully autobiographical-sounding Too Old, offering that “I won’t play the ingénue, if you’ll quit being Peter Pan” before admitting that they’re “too old for rock and roll, too old for long straight hair; too old to walk around in sexy underwear.” Elsewhere though, they disprove any notion of being too old for rock and roll, with Miss La-di-dah fit to nestle neatly alongside Lush’s perkier pop moments and the Peter-penned What Adam And Eve Did Next proving to be a fantastic facsimile of his past glories. There’s also much to enjoy in the slower numbers too, with Pantomime Devil being fiendishly good (oh, yes it is) whilst Innocent Abroad is a sweetly fragile piece of Francophile folk. The title track is the most utterly heavenly tune on ‘The Morning After’ though, documenting the disappointment of a post-coital comedown with Jessica longingly lamenting “Last night we had fun, now it’s time to pay; but if there has to be a morning after, why must it be today?” Like the album, it’s better than good and there’s no question of a would-be about it.   --Sounds XP
The band formed and fronted by singer and songwriter Jessica Griffin, The Would-Be-Goods have been lurking elegantly on the very fringes of the UK indie scene since 1987, releasing an album every five years or so, while Jessica has pursued a career in The City. The Would-Be-Goods’ Oxford connection came with the recruitment of former Talulah Gosh and Heavenly guitarist Pete Momtchiloff; ‘The Morning After’ is the band’s fourth album and the second with Pete. Jessica Griffin is something of an anti-Morrissey. Her subject matter and slant is similar – all human life is here, but hers is another world altogether: more jetset trash than Rusholme ruffians. The subjects are more likely to be found driving around in Jaguars than breaking faces at closing time. It’s an inescapably English album. Jessica’s clipped Home Counties accent dominates, while Pete’s alternately choppy or jangly guitar oozes old country charm and good manners. Saying that, there’s an old world European feel to some tracks, like the Stereolab-ish ‘Miss La Di Dah’. Literary, genteel and not a little twee, The Would-Be-Goods can be sweet and seductive: simple indie pop from the old school (public, not state, we’d hazard). You’re never too posh to pop, and you could happily, and politely, slip this in between your Belle & Sebastian and Magnetic Fields albums.   --Nightshift Magazine
There's something special about hearing a strong woman with a gentle voice fronting a twee-leaning, sweet-as-sugar pop band. Such an arrangement, handled properly, conveys several seemingly contradictory ideas: independence and emotional closeness, whimsicality and determination, gentleness and resilience. Moreover, it can make you wonder why these ideas sound, in other contexts, almost mutually exclusive. Also, at their best, such arrangements are pure sonic pleasure to listen to. Jessica Griffin, who has been recording under the name Would-Be-Goods off and on (mostly off) since 1987, has only recently made the band a fully-staffed ongoing concern. This lengthy timeline has given Griffin a brand of world-weary experience that lends a perfect bittersweet note to her band's frothy arrangements. "Too Old" perfectly encapsulates Griffin's strengths as a songwriter: accompanied only by a reverbed electric guitar and occasional backup "oohs", she demands a mature relationship from a lover who won't act his age. The entire song is quotable, but I'll try to restrain myself to the best moments: "Oh, I won't play the ingenue / If you'll quit being Peter Pan"; "Too old for rock and roll / too old for long straight hair / too old to walk around / in sexy underwear"; "I'll be your mirror / but you might not like what you see"; "You look at other women / I dream of other men / but we both know we couldn't / face such disappointment again." It's sad, and resigned, and sexy as hell in its deliberately unsexy way. It's truly worth buying the entire album for.Not that it is, by any means, the only reason to buy The Morning After. The title track, which is already a perky, bouncy pop song, seals the deal with a lilting and instantly hummable chorus. "Big Cat Act" indulges the band's jones for "oohing" again, and features a notable drum line that switches from swinging to driving without ever moving to the front of the mix. "Le Crocodile", which is sung entirely in French, is the album's second-rockingest track, and sports a searing guitar solo that both fits the song's tone perfectly and considerably expands the group's overall sonic palette. The other rocker, "Miss La-Di-Dah", may not have the Gallic patina of sex that pervades "Le Crocodile", but it has sass to spare. Album closer "Dear St. Valentine" is a complaint letter addressing the shortcomings of the aforementioned canonee's namesake holiday; it's quite a tune, and a perfect thematic capper.Not all of the album's songs are up to the high standards of its best material, but at the same time there's nary a true clunker in the bunch. The Morning After is only Griffin's fourth full-length album in fifteen years, but in terms of songwriting and execution, her band has the chops and talent of old pros.   --Splendid
In a world that is an endless repeat of the fucking X Factor, any kind of high art should be accessible to the masses. Thank heavens, then, that Would-be-Goods are here to save us all. ‘The Morning After’ is easily the best WBG album so far, and their most accessible. This is a record that makes me feel happier on a cold winter’s day. It makes me want to do that little heel kick thing that Eric Morecombe and Ernie Wise used to do. But not in public, you understand. Yes, so this is album crammed with great pop songs. From the opening rush of ‘Pantomime Devil’ and on through ‘What Adam and Eve Did Next’ and onto the dainty baroque strummings of ‘The King of Lace’, Jessica Griffin and co – and the co this times includes the sublime Lupe Nunez-Fernandez from Pipas - have made a truly strong album. Some of the guitar playing here is fantastic, and Peter Momtchiloff makes the who thing swing so well with his choppy Smiths chords and gentle strings here and there. When he wants to rock out (in the gentlest sense, of course), he can, most notably on the title track and ‘Miss La-di-Dah’. Elsewhere he picks a mean string of the beautiful closing track, ‘Dear St Valentine’, possibly my favourite here. So, if you’re feeling a little damp this winter, simply listen to ‘The Morning After’ for that…errm…woolly double glazed effect. Then get Ted Moult round to listen to it. Pop at its most righteous.   --Tasty