Just before Covid hit these shores, Manchester and London were visited by another then little known export from the East, though this one was from Russia not China.
Urbanista was lucky enough to catch up with Motorama on their northern sojourn and was wowed, as was the rest of the punters who raucously packed out the Night and Day which hosted their triumphant arrival in the Manchester. The ensuing and intermittent nature of the pandemic did for Motorama‘s confirmed full UK tour which had looked set to blow them big over here. Then the ridiculous and hysterical response to anything Russian (Motorama hail from Rostov-on-Don) in response to the war in Ukraine further stifled their attempts to show the UK what a great band they are, and denied UK citizens of good taste from sampling their wares in the live environment. And so, whilst the UK Government continues to use the war for their own propaganda purposes with a far from honest black and white appraisal of events there, it seems we will have to make do with Motorama‘s recorded output alone. Thankfully, with Sleep and I Will Sing that output is sparklingly wondrous.
Almost immediately you know it’s them.
The joyous opening Marr-esque riff of Two Sunny Days sets out their stall, as everything that has made them such a wonderful (and unheralded in the West) ensemble is to the fore on the very first track. With words that put native English lyricists to shame, Vladislav Parshin‘s thoughtful rumination on his two sunny days (otherwise known as Summer in the UK) add some melancholy to the otherwise sprightly soundtrack, something The Smiths were equally consistent and adept at.
The cold majesty of And Yes with it’s bitter sweet chorus (“And yes, not everything comes easily/and yes, not everything goes quite right”) recalls early eighties New Order, but the great thing about the band is that their influences bleed into each other and create a unique sound all of their own. Two tracks in and Sleep and I Will Sing is vying for their best album yet, no mean feat given the majesty of the Motorama back catalogue (check it out).
Next To Me is a slight departure from that well established sound whilst still nodding towards the ghosts of C86 and all that sprung from that era of excellence. The simple stark beauty of the lyrics (“Lie next to me and I will sing, lie next to me and sleep tight”) are augmented by a beautifully wistful instrumental break of chiming guitars and fluttering flutes. It is simply gorgeous.
The melancholic cascading intro to Another Chance does that thing that many of Motorama songs do, they lull in the listener before setting flight with a chorus and guitar line that is difficult to dislodge from your head. The She’s Lost Control-like intro to Twilight Song is all clinical precision with staccato like vocals before the sprightly chorus conjures up images of ice-floes and sparse winters. Think Porcupine era Bunnymen. At this juncture it might be worth mentioning the classic influences herein that should have anyone with a semblance of taste heading to Motorama‘s bandcamp to guzzle up all that is available – it’s here (https://mmmotoramaaa.bandcamp.com/) get guzzling – but Vladislav has an encyclopaedic knowledge of all that is great and good about post punk UK music and it pours over everything Motorama does. The line up of the band has changed over the years but the two constants are husband and wife Vladislav and Irene and that solid core has helped keep the Motorama sound consistent, and consistently great.
Not Really is a happily, twinkling, jaunty tune with clever and intriguing lyrics that begin; “I read an ancient book/the author passed away/ not really/I talked to him/I talked to her/once…” and indeed, as well as being highly proficient in the English language, the words that Vladislav writes betray a deep intelligence. It is a short song and leaves the listener feeling cheated and wanting more. Unknown provides the extra with another superb guitar line and catchy chorus before the stately seduction of Dreams, the final track of Sleep and I Will Sing, which acts as a suitable denouement to an album that feels like you are being gently and pleasantly anesthetised.
Motorama have been ploughing their bountiful field for a decade now and it is criminal that they are not better known in the UK (they are massive elsewhere; from Moscow to Mexico to Mongolia).
If you like sumptuous album sleeve covers (really stunning!), artistic excellence, solid bass lines, jangling rhythm guitar, memorable lead lines and cerebral lyrics – then take the plunge dear reader…you will thank me.
Sleep and I Will Sing is out now:- https://mmmotoramaaa.bandcamp.com/album/sleep-and-i-will-sing
To delve further go here – https://mmmotoramaaa.bandcamp.com/music
Prince Far Out.