The lineup: Thomas David (vocals), Joseph (guitars), Felix (drums), Matthew (keyboards, vocals), Phil (bass).
The background: We had better get out of the way right at the start the extent to which Father Sculptor sound like the Smiths. A large extent. An extent so huge it almost obliterates anything else you might want to think or say about them. But there are two reasons why this might not be that bad: the Smiths were around so long ago, enough time might have elapsed for a band to emerge in their image; and really at the moment, give or take Spector, nobody else is doing this, so why can't they, to paraphrase the poet O'Riordan. Plus, there's every chance that in doing it so well they make you forget about where they came from and wonder instead where it is they might be going.
Whether the impetus to do this was boredom, insatiable desire or the then-imminent 30th anniversary of the meeting of Morrissey and Marr we don't know, but form Father Sculptor did at the end of 2011 in Glasgow, although apparently they recently returned to "the north of England", where four out of the five members have their homes, which we're guessing are within worshipping distance of Salford Lads Club. They played their first gig – with Spector, hardly coincidentally – on 15 February at King Tut's in Glasgow, after which they began recording tracks – in a bedroom, with one microphone – and sorting out all artwork and web design themselves. Oh, and they came up with a declaration of intent – "Father Sculptor are mildly pleased to announce they will be the soundtrack to your birth, divorce & death" – that is so Morrissey (via Paul Morley) in its casually rampant self-belief, it's not true.
There are quite a few tracks online, and they reveal a band with all the elements in place to cause a considerable stir. It's immediately clear from Aristide that languor is their energy, the lyrics ("In between the sheets in which you sleep", "Could you just part those thighs?") taking a Moz-ish delight in the sensuous everyday, toying with sex even as they recoil from it. The singer's voice is as mannered as you'd expect, veering from a mid-range yodel to a wilting falsetto, and the guitarist is quite Marr-vellous, achieving a range of textures, even if his tendency to break into a solo should probably be curtailed, being overly muscular and macho in this fey, winsome context – their catalogue so far comprises Smiths-ish ballads, not Queen Is Dead-style attacks. Frances finds a dark patch of middle ground between the Cult and the Smiths with its goth-lite miserablism. It's shockingly traditional, and startlingly 1984 – the 1984 that saw a drift back towards rock-band convention, not the New Order or Frankie Goes to Hollywood version of 1984 as a signpost towards a melancholic or bombastic electronic future.
There is a nice guitar shimmer to Rhein, and echo appears to be crucial to Father Sculptor, if not yet a crutch. Many will respond to their arrival with either silent prayer or noisy jubilation, some with weeping, others with scorn. Doubtless some will scoff at the familiarity of it all, and the solemnity. But you can certainly see this being greeted with an enormous sense of relief by a certain type of indie fan. At least we can see why there might be a fuss this time, and we're not left feeling baffled as we were with, say, Palma Violets, even if we're hardly thinking, you know, that we've got everything now.
The buzz: "Smiths throwback sound and melancholic swagger" – crackintheroad.com.
The truth: They are the resurrection. Oops, wrong Mancunians.
Most likely to: Oscillate wildly.
Least likely to: Go nowhere fast.
What to buy: Aristide is released for free download on Monday 13 August.
File next to: Smiths, James, Geneva, Spector.
Tuesday's new band: Pyyramids.
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