‘The world is heading for a colossal fall and it’s the power of love .. not technology .. which is the one indisputable answer.’ This is the manifesto of The Korgis and it’s the theme which permeates the whole of Kartoon World, the band’s first new album release since 1992’s The World Is For Everyone. As of March 2020 the band had no plans to make a new album and, when they began, they didn’t realise it would become a ‘concept album’, striking a rich vein of creativity along the way. It’s a double album, with the first disc the regular album, and the second disc being alternate versions and surprises, plus also folded poster sleeves with cartoon drawings depicting the songs.
The Korgis emerged from the loveably quirky Stackridge, a prog/folk band but one ‘without the pomposity of Prog and the high mindedness of Folk’; their raison d’etre has always been writing songs which could be hits, and in 1980 they had their biggest hit with Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime, a song which captured the ethereal sounds of John Lennon’s early 1970s output, though since then they’ve lain very much below the radar. But this new album captures the era of ‘all you need is love’ succinctly with a collection of songs which radiate messages of peace and harmony, with the influence of The Beatles so clearly alongside them. Kartoon World is an exercise in nostalgia, but one with a sense of purpose and direction.
This is highlighted in the two tracks which bookend the album. The McCartney influenced Bringing Back The Spirit Of Love begins with a short intro speech clip from John F Kennedy and then the song begins, telling us we’ve got to ‘lay down our hate’ and how they’re ‘armed only with a red Stratocaster, one voice one love is our weapon’, employing harmonies straight out of Abbey Road and a guitar break sounding like George Harrison played it, and ending with ‘we’re tired of the lies and spin, let’s talk about love’. And the album concludes with the gorgeous soft vocals of The Best Thing You Can Do Is To Love Someone, where we’re told ‘we can’t lead the blind with dark shades on, so the best thing you can do is to love someone’.
In-between are a series of songs with copious Beatles references and imagery making the same points and pointing to the same ideal. La La Land is a savage indictment of the phony culture of LA, a song which later period Lennon could have written. Broken, a mawkish piece about a relationship breaking down, is pure McCartney, and All Roads Lead To Rome sees The Korgis’ inner Lennon, circa early 1970s, coming well to the fore.
There are also comments about the current state of the country. Magic Money Tree is a dig at current political philosophy … ’I made my millions stealing from the poor man’s purse’ … while Time (Song For Dom) is a take on the recent spat between Cummings and Johnson where it’s said, ‘there’s nothing more sad, than a clown who’s gone bad’.
Kartoon World is a superb pop album, drenched as it is in the spirit of The Beatles, whose influence they gratefully acknowledge, with a fine collection of meaningful tunes, and it comes with a pledge – one which begins and ends with love. Unashamedly naïve sentiments, true, but who could disagree with them? It’s what the world needs … now.