Cobby & Litten – Boothferry
Reviewed by Adam Ward
Combining eclectic beat driven music with spoken word story telling in a broad Hull accent, Cobby & Litten’s second album is a pretty bizarre proposition on paper. Opener “Off to Beer Off” is essentially a dub reggae track with its exaggerated bass line and reverb-thick guitar stabs, all arranged around an old school drum machine beat. Meanwhile Russ Litten’s words elevate a trip to the off license into a meandering contemplation of the heart’s deepest desires; “If you want owt getting, write us a list. Cigs? Skins? Goodies? A bottle of plonk? A few cans? Some vodka?…Have a good think about what your hearts needs the most. A tree house? A rocket? A place in the sun? A gold mine? An extended lifetime?”
Elsewhere Litten talks about his tenure as a window cleaner on Boothferry Estate, the record’s namesake. On “The Path of the Terrified” he bemoans a talentless busker over a backdrop of squelchy techno – “Put down your instrument of torture, and reward us with peace.” With the combination of digitally programmed beats and colloquial spoken word, Sleaford Mods are an obvious reference point for the stylistic niche that the duo have found for themselves. In contrast to Jason Williamson’s sneering rants however, Litten takes a more considered and literary approach, juxtaposing gritty stories of everyday life with semi-philosophical musings. There is a healthy dose of humour here too – “Tak Promin” is a highlight, with Litten regaling the listener with a story of his “Boho face off” with“Tony” with whom he compared stories of life in Prague in a bout of self mythologising one-upmanship.
The album culminates with four tracks which were commissioned for the Hull 2017 North Atlantic Flux Festival and inspired by the 1968 Triple Trawler Tragedy. “Black Cloud” follows trawler men going out to sea for the first time.“Get that down yer man, you’ve time for one more…just enough to steel yourself on the outgoing tide.” A penetrating dubstep beat and keeling synthesizers mimic the rise and fall of the ship. Closing track “Home” meanwhile charts the return journey which so many thousand never made over a bed of warm synths and euphoric vocal samples. “Send word to our lass, get me best suit out of Turner’s. Tell ’em in Halfway, tell ’em in Rayners” says Litten, paying lip service to the pubs once at the heart of Hull’s fishing community. With these ten tracks, Cobby and Litten have not only made headway to establishing an authentic voice for Hull in the landscape of alternative popular music. They’ve also created a touching tribute to one of the most important stories in the city’s collective cultural history.
BROWSE & BUY: https://cobbylitten.bandcamp.com/album/boothferry