[sic] Magazine

Miles Hunt and Erica Nockalls – Catching More Than We Miss

With The Wonder Stuff seemingly, for now, mothballed to occasional nostalgia shows, Miles Hunt (and some of the Wonder Stuff alumni) are forging ahead. In the age of the new market, where bands are small businesses instead of employees of abusive record companies that don’t know the difference between their arse and their elbow, Miles Hunt & Erica Nockalls from The Wonder Stuff return to recorded duty (aided by Andres Karu on drums), to create an album that is clearly from the same family. If you enjoy The Wonder Stuff – and you should – this album is another fine slice of life from their ongoing story.

As ever, the things that drew me to the Wonder Stuff to start with twentysomething years ago are still here: a sharp wit, lyrical insight, a passion for life and a vigour, sitting on top of fine melodic abilities and a determination to continue making a racket, because, after all, there’s nothing else you can do. At 42, Miles is almost (if not actually) middle-aged, and there is little of the typical mid-life crisis: the themes and content are kitchen-sink dramas, moments of life, snatches, fragments of a life made of kitchens, jumpers, the juggling of finance and balding and guts, all of life, the mundane made to mountains, in some way to cast our lifelong struggles in the context of the miniscule drama of daily life.

Aside from the words, there’s the music. I hate to use the words folk-rock: it conjures images of bland stuff with violins and the usually terrifying jaunty raggle-taggle that scuppered mid-era Waterboys. Here, thankfully, Miles partner Erica adds flavour to the style with the added dimension of being a one-woman string section. Unlike certain, lesser talents (Elbow, Oasis, etc) who think adding an orchestra automatically bestows gravitas, the music comes here with the added depth and dimension of a portable, real string section which sounds and feels organic, and not pumped out of a cheap touring Korg 9000. The benefits of the analogue playing are obvious, the bend and emphasis of fingers on soft strings give the strong songs a depth and dimension. (Erica pops off halfway through as the voice of sober reason in ‘Plans In The Sky’ to offset a moment of mocking self-pity). It’s all rather fabulous. Miles away from The Wonder Stuff’s often excitable wit and cynicism, ‘Catching More Than We Miss’ is a grown up, reflective voice that is still in touch with the inner child.

It’s music with big ideas and a big idea that is also small enough to get inside the veins of your soul and sit there. Older, wiser, and this is no bad thing, but also true. And all truth has some beauty in it.


The Wonderstuff in concert

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