Art and Language wrote lyrics that The Red Krayola (nee Crayola) set to music for three albums in the 1970s and 1980s. After a gap of more than twenty years they have got together again a fourth time for “Sighs Trapped By Liars”.
The album has a summery psychedelic rock sound that is very contemporary in its smooth retro feel. The songs are about mirrors, the authors of “Art Since 1900”, economic and social anecdotes and the texts of various Art & Language artworks. The lyrics, written by the two male artists of Art & Language, are delivered by two female vocalists, continuing the mirroring theme.
The sleeve notes mercifully contain brief explanations of the lyrics as well as the text of the lyrics themselves. These are songs that are deceptively easy on the ear. Their usually laid back feel hides a musical as well as a lyrical bite. Art & Language’s paintings are still texts, and The Red Krayola’s songs are still incisive.
“Four Stars” (about the authors of “Art Since 1900”), “Laughter At The Foot Of The Cross” (about a story by Rabelais), “Hostage” (the text of a series of paintings by A&L) and the title track are my favourites from an album of thirteen strong tracks.
Sometimes Art & Language’s lyrics and The Red Krayola’s instrumentation are both unstructured enough at the same time that they give neither singers nor listener enough to work with. This can be disorientating, which is presumably the point, but it does rob a good anecdote (“Jerry Fodor’s Story”) of its satisfying conclusion.
You can get the album from any online CD store or on iTunes. I recommend very highly that you do. There are previews on some sites, notably Amazon, so don’t just take my word for it.