All Music Guide
Review by Stewart Mason
White Town's "Your Woman" was probably the most unlikely one-hit wonder of the 1990s, a rather brilliant mash-up of a 1930s vintage trumpet sample, old-school synth pop rhythms, and playful gender-bending lyrics.
But Jyoti Mishra knew the musical mainstream wasn't for him and cleverly left EMI to return to the indie underground that had spawned his one-man band. Unfortunately, the resulting album, 2000's Peek & Poke, was terribly inconsistent, and afterward, Mishra seemed to disappear entirely.
Returning to music with the self-released and completely self-created (down to shooting the cover photos and designing the packaging) Don't Mention the War, Mishra has unexpectedly created his most consistently entertaining album so far.
The 12 songs on Don't Mention the War (title courtesy of Fawlty Towers, but also pointedly acknowledging the extent to which a war that has lasted longer than World War II is ignored in the day-to-day life of most Brits and Americans) fuse all sides of White Town's musical personality, from early guitar-oriented twee pop EPs to the dance beats and electronics of Women in Technology and the sometimes strident political themes of Peek & Poke.
For the purest expression of the last, note "These Are the MPs," a set of minimalist synth washes over which Mishra recites the names of the members of Parliament who voted to authorize the Iraq war, a track that wouldn't have sounded out of place on a very early Mute Records single.
Other songs are considerably brighter in tone, even when Mishra's lyrics tend toward the dark. Highlights include "A New Surprise," two and a half minutes of acoustic guitars, handclaps, and winsome lyrics ("Where are the Jetsons and flying restaurants?/Where is my golf course on the moon?") that sound like a vintage Sarah Records single circa 1991, the sweet-natured electro-pop of "I Was Trotsky's Nun," and the excellently titled, atmospheric instrumental "Theme for a BBC Natural History Series Starring Richard Dawkins."
It may have taken over half a decade, but Mishra has finally conclusively proven that he deserves more attention than one fluke hit has given him.
Q Magazine March 2007
Bedroom boffin returns a decade after his Number 1.
After six years of silence, JyotiMishra has sallied forth again with an album that ostensibly deals with the shallowness of life In the UK under “Butcher Blair” as the full horror of the conflict In the Middle East unfolds.
Given the bleak subject matter, much of it sounds surprisingly upbeat. Death In Kettering and Whenever I Say Hello recalling the early-‘80s heyday of synthpop.
But, frustratingly, for every pop nugget there’s a noodling instrumental or, in the case of These Are The MPs, a naming and shaming of those Members of Parliament who voted in favour of Illegally invading Iraq set to Blue Jam-esque ambience. • PHIL MONGREDIEN
Don’t Mention The War
Don’t write him off as a one-hit wonder. Guitar-based electro from straight outta the bedsit.
I’ve always had a soft spot for bedsit artists. They owned the myspace revolution before there was one. When Jyoti Mishra hit the number one spot back when most people were worrying about whether it was cooler to like Damon or Liam, I cheered inwardly but, deep down, knew that it was a bit of a fluke.
A decade later, and a whopping 6 years after he last troubled the record-buying public, he’s back - and this time, he’s grown up a bit.
A more mature writing style and a stronger voice stand him in good stead - still recognizable, but with more depth, somehow. But where “Don’t Mention The War” really stands out is in the instrumentation.
This is where the sabbatical has clearly been put to good use. Jyoti has discovered guitars (acoustic guitars and synths are a much maligned and misunderstood combination) and some has some rather fancy new tricks up his sleeve on the mixer too.
An album by a man at ease with his talent, and doing it for love.
By Chris Merriman
This release was published on 19 Feb 2007.
(Go here http://www.subba-cultcha.com/article.php?id=4324 for original article.)
Aversion.com Review - 4/5
"Don't mention the war." On one hand, it's probably a pretty difficult for White Town's Jyoti Mishra to follow the implications that stem from Don't Mention the War's title. He's an outspoken, ass-kicking leftie (check out the Republican-baiting tirades on his Bzangy Groink blog or the album's liner notes if you need proof) who can wield semiotics and conflict theory like John Henry swings a hammer.
By the same token, White Town's a pop band, always has and always was. Mishra, who writes and records every note on his latest, hit it big with "Your Woman" in '97, off his Women in Technology after Capitol Records picked it up from Parasol. While his stay in the charts and in the majors was as short as you can get with a bona fide hit under your belt, he hasn't let up off his love of pop song craft. Don't Mention the War picks up where he left off six years ago -- with Peek and Poke (Parasol) -- honing his idiosyncratic blend of bedroom and synth pop.
True to his word, Mishra doesn't mention the war -- though samples of street protests bookend the music on this album -- and, with the exception of "These Are the MPs," he largely sticks to personal-issue material throughout Don't Mention the War. And while he juggles six years' worth of personal issues on this album, it rarely sounds claustrophobically personal in that tawdry diarist-with-a-guitar way that's the hallmark of most singer/songwriters. Synth melodies cut through the gloom on "You Can't Make the World Go Away," while Mishra's reserved bedroom-pop delivery (think a Sarah Records tribute to New Order) doles out advice about avoiding the cycle of escapism. "The Straight Edge Atheist's Hymn" gives glimpse into Mishra's world, one without the emotional crutches of spirituality or intoxicants, as he swims through a cough-syrup sea of syrupy melodies and slow-motion programming. "Hold It In" is a dose of pop sunshine that's one part Beach Boys, two parts Pet Shop Boys and the tiniest smidgeon of Soft Boys, that, while about Mishra's weightlifting, stomach-rupturing injury, that's custom made to be a metaphor for every shy stoic out there. Mishra mulls a host of individual problems, but he's clever enough to strip out situational details and focus on emotion.
Don't Mention the War has its frivolous moments that rush in to clear the air just when things look to be too weighty. "Sabrina, Won't You Help Us Out" mixes a vocal that's uncharacteristically airy for Mishra with a playful acoustic guitar figure, in an ode to everyone's favorite Teenage Witch. "I Was Trotsky's Nun," despite its historical underpinnings, is a lighthearted synth-pop tune that'd fit perfectly on Peek and Poke, and "Death in Kettering" matches Mishra's bedroom-pop melodies and delivery to his electronic foundation without sacrificing either.
Mishra doesn't need to broach the topic of the Iraqi invasion on his latest. He has a wealth of material to pull from his everyday life. We can't ignore the war forever -- and Mishra's blogging self sure doesn't -- but Don't Mention the War's a reminder that even in election years, the big issues aren't always the most captivating ones.
- Matt Schild
Journal of the Classic Rock Society, March/April 2007
From having a hit record a few years ago as an unsigned artist Jyoti Mishra has returned with an album of strong tracks, and protest songs.
Rallying against the illegal war in Iraq (These are the MP’s) anger and defiance against the way this country is being run into the ground by the lying fools that pretend to be new labour are all informing this CD of strong tracks, and stronger words.
In times of trouble it is the music that is made that defines who we are and this stunning collection of protest songs and mature music mean that White Town are going to be remembered for more than just one hit wonders, and proof that a great songwriter never leaves the stage.
Rock ‘n’ Reel Magazine, March/April 2007
WHITE TOWN, the musical vehicle for Jyoti Mishra, returns with a semi-concept collection, Don’t Mention The War. It’s a confident collection of timeless lightweight pop-rock, where the disco drums of ‘I Was Trotsky’s Nun’ rub shoulders with a wall of indie pop guitars (on ‘Hold It In’). And anyone who names a synth tune ‘Fanfare For Emma Goldman’ deserves some form of recognition.
White Town is a techno-pop act from the United Kingdom, and is the work of one man, Jyoti Mishra. Mishra was born in Rourkela, India, in 1966, and has lived in England since the age of three.
White Town is often regarded as a one-hit wonder for its 1997 song "Your Woman" which went to number one in eight countries. The album it was taken from, 'Women In Technology,' went on to sell more than 260,000 copies in North America
Mishra, a straight edger and ex-Marxist often incorporates political concerns in his songs veiled in terms of personal relationships.
Don't Mention the War, an all new album, is scheduled for release in the fall of 2006 on Mishra's own label, Bzangy Records.