Famous at Rough Trade Bristol
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A gig held at Rough Trade Bristol on Wednesday 4th December. The event starts at 19:30.

Over the course of two wildly varied and acclaimed EPs, 2019’s England and 2021’s The
Valley, shape-shifting London outfit Famous has forged its own inimitable sound. A sound
that subverts pop’s Gospels. A barrage of halcyon melodies, despondent electronics jutting
against warming acoustics, and scintillating song structure, all this the singular creative
vision of Jack Merrett — Famous’ singer, lyricist, core songwriter and only consistent
member — that finds convulsively spectacular expression in their forthcoming debut album,
Party Album.

Coming to prominence as a part of the celebrated South-London Brixton Windmill scene
alongside Black Country, New Road and Black Midi, the group quickly drew recognition for
its boundary-pushing, post- post-punk sound. Jack Saunders of BBC Radio One crowned
Famous “the most original band in the UK right now”, The Line of Best Fit called them
“almost unforgivably ambitious”, and Antony Fantano called them “dope”. Dork gave The
Valley a resounding 5-star review, declaring it “as singularly independent and entirely of its
own world as anything else you’ll listen to”.

As Famous worked out the patterns to its music that grew wider and deeper with every
song and new line-up, its mystique grew – something Merrett identifies with the musical
heroes of his youth, as he explains, laughing but with unfeigned sincerity, “all my life, I have
had a certain idea of rock music.”. Adorning himself with mythic, Jim Morrison-esque
monikers like “The King of the Dark Time”, drawing from scattered cultural references
ranging from BoJack Horseman episodes to the Book of Revelation, and playing rooftop
concerts in London to nobody but the twilight sky. It all laid the suspicion that Famous was
either constructing or destroying something huge. Ultimately both were true.

“[After The Valley], I fell into something of a crisis of confidence. I began to question whether
this was really what I wanted to do”. The rumination coincided with a broader personal
crisis that appeared to be telling the twenty-six year old that perhaps the party was over.
Merrett became fixated on “what album I would make if I wasn’t concerned about anyone
but me. This became a jumping-off-point for all of us”.

The resulting answer, Famous’s debut LP Party Album, is the record Famous has been
threatening to make for eight years – an album that Merrett intimates is a lot like Famous
itself, “a long coming-of-age drama that always threatens to end but goes on forever”.
Recorded primarily in The Kink’s old studio Konk in Crouch End, North London, Party
Album’s nine tracks are cohesive in the way the pieces of a broken heart are, woven
together by Merrett’s mercurial vocal delivery and striking lyrics that find epiphanies within
crises and crises within those epiphanies. For Merrett, he tersely suggests, it is simply an
album of nine love songs.

Written over the course of two years and beginning life as a set of demos that saw Merrett
accompany himself on the Fender Rhodes, the group spoke initially of making a more
traditional record, improbably inspired by Peter Jackson’s ‘Get Back’, My Chemical
Romance, and the folk singer-cum-Christian mystic Judee Sill. Predictably, the work-in-
progress gradually became hijacked by their thirst for experimentation. Merrett recalls,
“what's funny is we had this idea of making this very authentic rock record. We were

constantly talking about how we wanted to make a classic rock record. A stadium-ready
classic rock record. But yeah – it just became different over time”.
The mutative writing process creates a pervasive duality within Party Album that revels and
reviles at the hideous beauty it creates. Trapped somewhere between idyllic beauty and
agonising ambition, Party Album is a swamp of pulsating moods that swallow one another

From the off, disorientating opener ‘Boxing Day’ and single ‘What Are You Doing The Rest Of
Your Life’ are draped in a grandiose decrepitude. A sonic ruin for the frenetic and eccentric
music to haunt, tender and ecstatic by turns, punctuated by gigantic riffs, blast beats, and
inexorable synths. Lilting melodies are ran-sacked by contemporary pop’s hyper-post-
everything-mania. Songs full of rich, full-bodied sounds that cast dirty reflections.
Lead single ‘God Hold You’, paired in a double A-side release with the starkly contrasting
post-apocalyptic folk of ‘It Goes On Forever’, is a wondrous detonation of noise played out
over three minutes. It bonds style and existentialism in its tortuous tenseness, with Famous
discovering their own explosive equations by stitching together the algebra of post-
hardcore and The Beach Boys.

‘2004’ is the only song-title Famous fans will recognise. A re-recording of an earlier England
EP fan-favourite. Merrett recalls how the eruptive track “never left our live set and over the
years took on a new life that we felt the original recording didn’t do justice to”. When the
group was suddenly offered studio-time while playing cult German festival Haldern Pop in
2023, they snapped it up and re-recorded ‘2004’. “We recorded it live and the whole session
took less than 45 minutes”.

‘Leaving Tottenham’, a country ballad cast in North London’s urban sprawl, showcases every
element that makes Famous singular. A potent mutation of The Beatles’ love-bombed pop
epics, Merrett traces the song’s origins back to “a moment of catharsis after seeing
someone I had been in love with for the first time in a while”. Like all love songs, it’s a ghost

Closer ‘Love Will Find a Way’ is the out-pouring of everything pent up musically and
spiritually within Merrett. Sounds swirl by like rushing wind, charmed towards us like bodies
to graves. Featuring violin from recent Oscar nominee and former-member Jerskin Fendrix,
its slow piano build radiates an epiphanic catharsis that feels like the end of an exploration,
with Merrett finding closure in vulnerability, signing off the album with, “I think you’re really
like me / feel sad a lot but that’s ok / don’t have real problems / I’m like St. Augustine / I’m
just kind of vibing / I’m like St. Augustine / I’m trying to get back home / I’m just trying to get
back home / Oh, love will find a way / love will find a way”.
Ultimately, it’s Merrett’s own reflections that best summarise the complexity and simplicity
of what Famous has achieved with Party Album: “it’s trying to sketch the pattern of the
universal onto a very flawed and partial human life. I think that’s the stupidly audacious
thing that the whole album is about”.

Entry requirements: 14+