New album "Kindly Leave The Stage" out on May 12th!
After achieving some sort of world record by leaving a 32-year gap between the release of their first and second albums – 1980’s Nobody’s Perfect and 2012’s The End Of The Pier – The Distractions have sped things up and now, after a gap of less than five years, release their third (and final) album, Kindly Leave The Stage.
The story of The Distractions – from Manchester punk era legends to critically-rated pop geniuses to a quarter century of silence, and then a more-than-slight return with a 21st century album of grown-up, wise, elegiac guitar music – is also the story of Mike Finney, one of the great blue-eyed soul voices, and Steve Perrin, a guitarist whose sense of melody and lightness is the perfect counterfoil to Finney’s emotional grit. Mike and Steve have been the core of The Distractions for 40 years, from the thrash of 'It Doesn’t Bother Me' and the Factory Records classic 'Time Goes By So Slow' to the maturity of The End Of The Pier and, now, the superb Kindly Leave The Stage.
It’s been a long, strange trip. Not every band gets a third act. “The classic narrative structure is beginning-middle-end so three seemed like the right number,” says Steve. “Also I thought it was important to formally say 'goodbye', both to the fans and to each other.”
Mike agrees. “It’s a fond farewell to each other, which had me in tears a few times. I hope it isn’t a deathbed confession, I’ve gotta whole lotta livin’ to do yet.”
With the assistance of new(ish) Distraction Nick Halliwell, the band’s sound may be more introspective and stripped-down, but The Distractions are still The Distractions. “The Distractions have always been an unalloyed delight,” says Nick, and that sense of a band who are also a group of friends shines through here. From the Buzzcocks-via-Scott Walker wistfulness of 'Wake Up And Kiss Me Goodbye' to the gorgeous, Ray Davies-y 'The End Of The Pier', this is a record which mixes thoughtfulness with throwaway brilliance and melancholy with melody.
“Nick asked me what the key word for the album was,” says Steve, “And I said 'resignation', in both senses. Although there's a real sadness in saying 'goodbye' to something that has been a hugely significant part of our lives I don't think it's all doom and gloom.”
Mike adds, “I think that there was a lot of unfinished business after the first album, and I feel lucky that we got the chance to complete it properly.”
The Distractions, not so much a great lost band as a great found band, are taking a final bow. Time to appreciate what they were and what they are.