For proof that the great clubbing catharsis can effect even the most puritan of indie stalwarts in the end, look no further than 18 Wheeler.

After years spent hunkered down in the jangliest corner of the indie bunker, with their Big Star, the Beatles and the complete works of Brian Wilson on the radiogram, they've emerged shouting into the daylight, asked a passer-by what year it is and redefined themselves. Soaking up the heady atmosphere of London's house and techno club nights, buying up dance 12's and mix tapes by the guitar-case full and immersing themselves in Krautrock, they've thrown it all into the white-hot techno forge and cast an album what will stand as a leftfield benchmark for post-Oasis indie bands.

Though horrific images of careering bandwagons come to mind, the album 'Year Zero', and the forthcoming singles taken from it aren't just the gormless off-spring of some fleeting fuck between a rhyming indie guitar and a few amped-up club anthems. With its seamless, fluid mix of samples, loops and maggot melodies worming the way inside the collective membrane all seasoned with the good ol' traditional indie guitar power, 'Year Zero' is no Frankenstein hybrid.

We went clubbing, enjoyed it, got turned on, got the records, learned about it and felt inspired - it's that simple

"We know people are going to accuse us of selling out and being commercial, but it wasn't contrived or conscious," says singer and guitarist Sean Jackson. "We just woke up and expanded our horizons. We went clubbing, enjoyed it, got turned on, got the records, learned about it and felt inspired - it's that simple." The change in direction is also a reflection of the fact that three years and two albums into their Creation contract the group had exhausted the purist pop ideology that inspired them. It's the point The Beatles reached with 'Rubber Soul' and Primal Scream with 'Screamadelica' back in the late Eighties. "It's not really a betrayal of our roots," moans Sean. "If Brian Wilson was starting out in the mid-Nineties he'd be using sample technology and getting remixes done, wouldn't he?" Quite so.

Luddie snipes aside, 'Year Zero' is above all, a lesson in ambition. Proof that the whole teetering edifice we call pop music is built on the principle of salvage and reinvention. It's an infectious and utterly relevant Nineties album that could have been purpous-built for the generation who feel into the cracks between Britpop and club culture. In some indefinable way 18 wheeler - a band of old-school pop purists who named themselves after a Seventies porno mag for gay truckers, and who would have warranted only a footnote in the annals of rock as the band Oasis supported at the gig where McGee whipped out his chequebook - have become curious contemporary pioneers. Listen without prejudice.

Cliff Jones, The Face, December 1996

 

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