Actors seem to be getting good at releasing albums: Hugh Laurie’s bluesy Didn’t It Rain, Riz Ahmed’s visceral hip-hop adventure MICroscope and now this indie rock juggernaut from actor/director Paddy Considine; a vanity project on the surface; a record that’ll make you think 'holy shit, this bloke isn’t faking it' underneath.
First picking up a guitar 15 years ago, Considine has gone on to become one of the UK’s most lauded film stars, all the while jotting down his anxieties as Riding the Low, a quote from Lee Marvin’s psychiatrist about how to de-stress after in between acting jobs. His debut album is a passionate but grounded knees-up, his swaggering couplets as beguiling as his work in front of the camera (if you haven’t seen Dead Man’s Shoes, head to YouTube now).
Styled as 'indie rock with the fat cut out', What Happened To The Get To Know Ya? delivers everything any awestruck Guided By Voices fan could ask for: see-saw guitars and rants about sex with self-harmers; teeming folk, Shed Seven-sad lyrics. When Riding the Low are up, they’re jetpack happy: ‘Dizzly Doo Dah Man’ is psychedelic rock fit for bikers (complete with a riff that could see off ‘The Hindu Times’), while ‘What Has the Universe Done For Me Lately’ sounds like Japandroids having a pop at cosmic ordering, Considine’s lyrics unusually direct, and - for the only time on the album - actorly (”Bleed my colours till I’m just like everyone/I’m alone”).
It’s a slip that the rest of the LP avoids. Guitarist Chris Baldwin’s gnashing but tuneful melodies are designed to invigorate, and Considine’s impressive range reflects his superb knack for accents. Both work best when at their most tender, such as ‘Rocky 99’ where a descending MOR tune is elevated by twinkling guitars and Considine’s high-pitched reverie (”Who knows where we go/We trade in love/What do I do with my body now”), and the folksy ‘Deck the Warhorse’ which layers acoustic riffs, military drum tattoos and high-pitched anti-war lyrics into a stoner version of Ocean Colour Scene’s ‘Profit in Peace’. Even more affecting are the bluntly personal tracks: ‘His Love Affair With Americana Is Over’ implies Considine used to brawl to Counting Crows with its hazy chords and tales of soldiering up/knuckle scraping. ‘Cost of Lifer’ finds him spying on a pregnant ex-lover, the scratchy guitars exploding like his disgust halfway through.
With enough tunes to fill a disco floor and full of slice-of-life observations, What Happened to the Get To Know Ya? is a hearty surprise of an album. Considine emerges not as some actor who thinks he’s Jenny from the block but as a performer finding his niche, and surprising everyone by it being in front of a mic and not under 200kg studio set lights. There are moments of self-deprecating humour - the two-chord caterwaul of ‘Road’ features the lyric ”I’ve seen the pictures of you crackin’ up at home”, possibly referencing Considine’s turn as Mafioso student loan collector Tony Maroni (sample threat: ”I got pictures of you, your father, your mother, your uncle Bernie who works in McDonald’s in Leicester”) - and a lot of attention is paid to the kids from his background who didn’t fare as well as the brooding method actor. It’s said that to do rock music well you only need three chords and the truth. Considine and his band have bought the complete Guitar Superstars, and show it’s possible to make rambunctious UK indie music without sounding like the Kayas.
7George Bass's Score