An aside: My nice neat 111 entries will in fact be 112. I was going to treat "Jazz Moments" and "Pretty Ballerina" as one entry but realised that the band released "Pretty Ballerina on its own later on so they really need separate entries. It's probably for the best given the superiority of one to the other, actually. Anyway...
I complained yesterday of 2006's self-titled album and the way that it is content to stick at being background music. It didn't have to be that way, as this selection from the previous year's Serenity Now EP demonstrates. One of the snappiest, most instant things that they've ever recorded, "The Happy Lobotomy" takes Luxembourg's harder, sharper sound and sweetens it up. Its addictively circling metallic riff is propulsive but never abrasive, accompanied by big dollops of squelchy bass and rivalled in catchiness by the 'do-do-do-do-do-do-do' choruses throughout. Special mention too to the start of the song, where one single beat hangs in the air for just short enough of a moment to lend the riff an extra element of surprise when it comes in. Musically, it's not a song to ignore, which colours the lyrics too.
As for those, well... humour is a subject that we're going to come back to time and again with later Bluetones. Sure, they had the occasional one liner early on but it merely a garnish for serious songs and never anything near the focus of their work. Somewhere along the line, though, an idea started to creep in that songs didn't really need to have much of a point beyond being a vehicle for some whimsical laughs, resulting in the likes of "After Hours". The effects are frequently very bad, but while "The Happy Lobotomy" definitely falls into the same category, it's catchiness is enough to override them anyway. It's an energising stomp where the lyrics are a kind of optional extra, although it also helps that this time Mark is almost as funny as he thinks he is, going through increasingly obscure ways of saying that he's lost his mind with some impressive invention:
'My old grey matter is wrecked,
I can't tell Quorn from Quebec,
There's nothing north of my neck.'
The lobotomy of the title not necessary to enjoy the song then, though it probably wouldn't ruin it either.
mp3: The Happy Lobotomy (live)