Death By Chocolate have, surprisingly, broken free of Mike Alway’s Terminal Electric Works production house and returned with a new line-up (still comprising Jez Butler and Angie Tillet of course) and a new album Bric-a-Brac that appeared under our very noses without fanfare. This third album, ten years on from the brilliant Zap the World, has so far only been released in the US on the Darla label. The group still stay true to their 1960s Britain frills and fashions, with an increased affection for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop as seen by the cover. The themed vignettes that appear throughout the album is a recurring element from previous albums – on the first album the theme was colours, on the second “favourites” and here it is hotel menus. That theme goes well with Angie Tillet’s purported past as a chambermaid (before or after being the voice of Fantastic Everlasting Gobstopper?) and the transcontinental recording process. Jez Butler (one-time Groove Farm member) divulges on this in a recent radio interview, although the presenter continuously forgets the songtitles and seems more keen to talk about The Groove Farm. (Actually, I too would like to mention that there is a Groove Farm tribute compilation out now.)
One of the best tracks, “(Another) Day Out”, is a reworking of the same track from the second album, Butler tells us. I struggled to find it though, til I realised it’s only on the US release of Zap the World. The tune is originally from one of my favourite British 60s films Smashing Time, with the soundtrack composed by John Addison. Another pop cultural reference is the second song “Are You Being Served?”, the theme to a 70s sitcom of the same name. You’ll find plenty more analog organs on this record, check out “My New Old Organ” and “Kosmonaut” for example. The simply gorgeous instrumental “Something For Jez” also features some classy jazz guitar, and is as good as anything on Butler’s album with Mild Euphoria. As usual Tillet’s voice works best for the spoken pieces, and “Dining With Death” in particular is almost of Marden Hill standard. Listen to the whole record on Spotify and get it through Darla, or if you’re in Europe it would probably be easier to get it straight from the cat’s mouth.