This week’s mind tickler came once again from my Spotify Release Radar playlist. A track called Presidentially Yours caused the cog wheels in the mental gearbox to suddenly shift up a notch. The title alone was enough to disengage the clutch. The unmistakable voice of Simon Armitage, our Poet Laureate, selected a higher gear ratio. And the mystery of the LYR band name pushed a little harder on the accelerator.
With the research vehicle soon going at top speed, it didn’t take long to discover that LYR is a trio: the singer and musician, Richard Walters; the producer, Patrick J Pearson; and the aforementioned poet and lyricist, Simon Armitage.
Of all the poets I have ever come across, Simon Armitage is by far my favourite. Byron, Keats and Tennyson have never impressed me much. I have a grudging appreciation for Ted Hughes and T. S. Eliot. Some of our contemporary poets I quite like – Roger McGough, Iain McMillan, John Cooper Clark, for example. But none grab my attention the way that Armitage does. His use of language tickles and teases, and his salt-of-the-earth voice holds out the promise of both illumination and entertainment.
“His voice is familiar – clear, dourly rhythmic, vowels hard and flat as paving stone.”Simon Hattenstone, from an interview in the Guardian newspaper.
The LYR band has released one album (Call In The Crash Team, 2020) and a few singles to date. Presidentially Yours is from their next album, The Ultraviolet Age, which is due for release on 30th June. All their songs seem to be Simon Armitage poems set to music in the indie/post-punk style. It’s a combination that pleases the Crotchety Listening Panel very much.
I must confess, the puzzle of the band name continued to exercise my mind for a day or two. It’s obviously not the initials of the band members. What could it be, I wondered? If we stick an ‘e’ on the end, we get a musical instrument (lyre), but that’s tenuous in the extreme. Is it an acronym I’m not familiar with, perhaps? Apparently not – encouragingly, Googling for ‘LYR’ produces hits that are all about this band. At least, it does for the first page of results on my device.
As usual, though, that Google search does provide the answer. If you can’t be bothered to Google yourself, and you’d like a hint, take another look at the headline picture for this blog post before reading on. … Yes, you got it, LYR stands for Land Yacht Regatta. Sadly, that doesn’t begin to explain why this trio chose that particular name, and even the mighty Google doesn’t help there.
Needless to say, the preview single is a satirical comment on a former President of the United States. It seems a little out of date now, but the phrase ‘Presidentially Yours’ pokes fun at the POTUS in a typically amusing Armitage style. The lyrics make a semi-serious point, but they are mainly for entertainment. There’s no attempt to be objective.
And, with that, I shall sign off for another week.
Subjectively Yours, Crotchety Man