Below the words, a Julian Cope track. Something from his début solo album; not necessarily his most accessible, certainly not his most intriguing, yet round these parts it is considered his most accomplished.
World Shut Your Mouth was released in 1984, a year or more after the Teardrop Explodes disintegrated. It’s a record dictated by an alluring flow, full of understated – albeit unconventional – beauty. And it is of course that aversion to convention that makes some brief, Cope-related words difficult in terms of scale and scope – even with this one solitary album there’s a significant amount of detail and delicious idiosyncrasy to pick through. Oblique inferences to childhood litter this record, an autumnal landscape where the fallen leaves are reflective. And if that isn’t enough, there’s the Graham Greene references, and a suite of knowing winks… perhaps there’s even a little of Steven Patrick Morrissey in the vocal construction, a wry two-fingers to what you’re supposed to do (a case in point: Cope later re-used the album’s title for a far more commercially accessible single).
Word construction is all about brevity, a dexterous flirtation with all the many possible words that float and flitter. We could be here for some time… thus it’s a good job that there has already been plenty written on the subject – perhaps the best of it penned by Julian himself.
‘Metranil Vavin’ begins with a reverse-drum loop, climaxes with a dreamy, almost subversive oboe solo and in-between: a strange, bitter-sweet paean to something lost. But even then it’s not that simple. The title refers to a non-existent Russian poet, a writer of sentimental tosh created as an in-joke by a group of seventies verse pranksters. This is typical of Julian Cope’s approach at the time, and although he’s voyaged in many weird and wonderful directions since, it’s his earlier stuff that (to my ears at least) continues to stand out.
Julian Cope / Metranil Vavin