Beans On Toast: Knee Deep In Nostalgia/The Unforeseeable Future

Beans on Toast Camden musician

Beans on Toast - Credit: Courtesy of Beans on Toast

Camden troubadour drops two LPs on his 40th – including a treatise on lockdown

Beans switches up his annual tradition of releasing an album on his birthday by releasing two side-by-side. Whether it was to mark his impending 40th or, more likely, the unprecedented new reality that left no-one unaffected, the modern folk troubadour’s double offering is like yin and yang. 

Knee Deep In Nostalgia is produced by Beans’ good friend, the folk-punkster and Islington live scene mainstay Frank Turner, who also plays on the record alongside four other musician mates for a fulsome sound. 

Beans on Toast The Unforseeable Future album cover

Beans on Toast The Unforseeable Future - Credit: courtesy of the artist

Beans shares Turner’s verbose lyricism and dry humour, cramming each verse with candid observations – the compositions mostly sitting subserviently beneath until granted the odd flourish. The Village Disco is more balanced, a cheery, bouncy pop tune about life lessons as Beans ponders how – or if – he’d offer advice to his young self on that dancefloor. 

What Would Willie Do? is a slice of gently lilting Americana dressed in slide-guitar and bar-room piano, Beans looking to Mr Nelson for guidance on life’s conundrums, while he raises a smile in a fond, strummed ditty about Oz (You Old Mate Beano) and getting to play Mr Tumnus opposite his school crush in a play (My Favourite Teacher). 

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Elsewhere, The Album Of The Day finds him dancing with his young daughter as he guides her through his record collection (“We try to avoid greatest hits, because the real world comes with album tracks”). 

The record ends with a blast of brass and drums in Coincidence? which boasts a moshpit-inducing tempo and shout-along chorus as antidote to the otherwise fairly laid-back, easy listens. 

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Whimsy and escapism are in much shorter supply on Beans’ lockdown-born solo effort. With acoustic guitar providing rhythm more than anything else, the record flits between remarks on the sheer early-days weirdness of panic-buying, new paranoia and isolation (the peppy Strange Days) to anger at national and international hypocrisy and political manoeuvring as the pandemic unfolded. 

He rails against politicians with “bloodstains on their constant clapping hands”, using graphs to hide the body bags (Chessington World Of Adventures), despairs at George Floyd’s death and Trump’s America (What Colour You Are), eulogises independent live music venues (Save The Music) and sings of building a playground in the living room for his tiny terror, while a great unseen terror wreaks havoc outside (Got Each Other). 

There is a ray of light in Patience? the album’s breezily-strummed, hopeful sign-off, but both records engage the head more than the heartstrings. 

 3/5 stars 

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