Happy to finally welcome into the fold this amazing and essential punk album, Inflammable Material from Ireland’s Stiff Little Fingers. Originally released in 1979, this 1980 US pressing was offered by Rough Trade Inc., 1412 Grant Ave., San Francisco, CA 94133… for those wondering. I’d been on the hunt for this album since my Milwaukee days back in the early 2000’s, and only just found out that the opening track, Suspect Device (which is arguably among the top three on the album) is a slightly different recording from the bootleg CD version I’ve known and have grown to love in the 18-some-odd years since I knew of this album’s existence… so that’s bitter sweet. Anyway, if you’re into seminal punk from across the pond with a timestamp of nearly 40 years, get into Inflammable Material. Simply put, it’s one of the best albums I’ve ever heard.
Jeffrey Lewis, the famed comic book artist and occasional singer / songwriter delivers an exceptionally agonizing diddy filled with a deceivingly optimistic tone, catchy refrain, and the sliver-sharp wit that requires, no, DEMANDS repeated listens. Titled Broken Broken Broken Heart, Jeffrey Lewis and his backing band, The Junkyard, spawn a candy-coated razorblade of nervous sensitivity, discretely masked inside an anti-folk pop song, and it’s nothing short of blissful ear bourbon.
We aren’t meant to sympathize with Mr. Lewis, or whatever character he is when speaking in the first person. His over-analytical observations of (failed) relationship-causing pain are muted and all but ignored after evidence is revealed as to the cause of his (much deserved) heartache: being cruel and curious.
I’m stuck in a Jeffrey Lewis rutt as of late, and it seems as though a few times a day I need to squeeze in a quick listen, usually to the three or four key tracks off this album (2009’s ‘Em Are I). Jeffrey’s is a story of success by self-deprecation. Mix that with hooky guitars and soul-baring honesty, and you’ve got the ingredients for an emotional cocktail you’re not soon to forget.