YNGODLTbutton TGBSSbutton DBMbutton BCbutton NP2button SFTWbutton ATTbutton






Sign up for news




the distractions

nobody's perfect documents


The following is a transcription of the terrific Rewind article from the esteemed David Quantick in NME's 12 December 1987 issue. I especially love the "...greatest sleepwalking nightmare ballad ever, the mad-eyed and empty Looking For A Ghost..." line, as this song was the catalyst that led to creation of this website.




Nobody's Perfect (Island)

THEIR FIRST record was a raging EP called You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That. Their second was a lorn and lonely single on Factory called Time Goes By So Slow. And their third was this LP, Nobody's Perfect, a record that pointed the way for pop this decade (it was released in 1980) and was duly ignored by everyone except a few fans and a few critics. That's what I reckon anyway. The Distractions were an odd group. They had a proper guitarist called Steve Perrin, a man who write melancholy tunes with flaky, angular guitar parts, a bassist called Pip Nicholls, who wasn't wild about being called a girl, and a singer called Mike Finney who looked like a bookie's clerk and sang like R. Dean Taylor or some other blue-eyed soul god. The music they made had its closest cousins later in the final Undertones LPs and bits of the Housemartins, but no-one could really compare with Finney's surprised and ironic tunes. There's a line in Time Goes By So Slow which is amazing: "They put your statue up in Albert Square/All the people passing by just stare/But Albert just won't do/I don't need him but you" - this piece of pre-Morrissey hardcore whimsy being sung by Finney like a revelation torn from the heart. Nobody's Perfect was The Distractions' chance to expand on their nascent genius and by golly, they did. From the bitter guitar whirlpool of Waiting For Lorraine (allegedly written by Perrin because all his girlfriends kept coming out) to the Spectoresque anorak grandad of Boys Cry, from the delicate echoing balladry of Still It Doesn't Ring and Leave You To Dream to the joyful nihilism of Valerie and the greatest sleepwalking nightmare ballad ever, the mad-eyed and empty Looking For A Ghost, The Distractions pulled every pop stop out and made a quietly glorious record. It was modern, yet it harked back through pop history; it was melancholy and yet it was daft; all the good pop stuff. The bad irony was that it was great and it didn't sell. No single hits, no LP hits. Island gave them a couple of singles more and dropped them. Various Distractions left, a lovely EP (24 Hours) was done for Rough Trade, and that was it, except for Mike Finney's short-lived Secret Seven. The Distractions used the past rather than got eaten by it, and how they offered a mainstream pop that didn't ditch originality. Just for that, and for a generation stuck in a world of would-be naifs, revivalists and fools without imagination, we should all have Nobody's Perfect.

David Quantick

To complement the 1987 Rewind article, here's the original review of Nobody's Perfect from NME's 3rd July 1980 issue by none other than Paul Morley.

Heartbeats and bruises: love or contusion


Nobody's Perfect (Island) .

THE BEST music this year has been about and for love: love as stimulus/symbol/metaphor of these - The Correct Use Of Soap, Seventeen Seconds, Closer - the songs on Nobody's Perfect are the most familiar, but they are still inextricably bound up with the reasoning that love is not a comfort but a major catastrophe. Manchester's The Distractions, part of an Island 'team' that looks increasingly exciting, illustrate that the superficially conventional need for love need not be banal. Within unashamedly conformist structures, The Distractions' intimate and illuminating use of language defers anxiously to a stupid, cruel world, whilst their beautiful crafted music succeeds by confirming cliches with intense spirit (Paracetamol Paralysis), twisting them with unexpected depth (Something For The Weekend) and transcending them with nimble invention (Waiting For Lorraine). The Distractions are unaffectedly original, eclectic but not secondhand. They do not disguise their accents, and sing of what is, what hurts and what is wrong with acute insight. Nobody's perfect, nobody's typical, nobody's flawless, nobody's right... this LP tells no lies. That's really tough. The group use the basic plots and affairs (a lot of hanging around for phone calls, drifting into comatose states in discos, missing out on parties...) pop-lying-loving-infatuation and elevate them into the metaphysical. There are layers within layers in their songs: to approach them lazily is to miss out on contrast, contradiction, deception, mystery. Such completeness and compelling virtuosity are rare in the pop song. We have to look towards Motown, Otis Redding, early Beatles, to experience similarly concentrated moods of sadness, retrospection and introspection. The Distractions are most often compared to The Undertones and Buzzcocks because of their virtual implausibility and the similarity of musical, lyrical, melodic and dynamic concerns. The Distractions, though, are a much more demanding listening experience. They have a penetrating sureness that those other romantic wonder boys can never quite match. Throughout 14 songs a wounding pace and passion are maintained; a disorientating mix of seriousness and playfulness. Steve Perrin and Adrian Wright's sensational guitar partnership is constant drama itself (Untitled), wound so tight that you can't see a join. Either one is prepared at anytime to spiral off into breathless cosmic space (Nothing). Beautifully introduced harmonies melt all over (Boys Cry), moving to tears (Leave You To Dream) or savaging the song (Paracetamol Paralysis). The John Astley-Phil Chapman production is better than I dreaded; uplifting, urgent, ever so slightly displacing the songs. Mike Finney probably never took his hands out of his pockets in the studio, but his sly, northern soul vocals convey all the irony, anxiety (Wonder Girl), exhaustion, dark bitterness (Waiting For Lorraine), compromise, heroism (Untitled), tension and more that the songs contain. Heart beats up sadness. Heart beats up joy. This is heart beat music that bruises the soul.

Paul Morley



sign up for distracting news

YNGODLTbutton TGBSSbutton DBMbutton BCbutton NP2button SFTWbutton ATTbutton