A Certain Ratio are original post-punks from the era of Factory Records, and their new record ACR Loco is their first in about twelve years. Though they’re known for their post-punk style, the trio bring in elements of funk, new wave, and samba, with the new record featuring an array of guests including Tony Quigley, Denise Johnson, Matt Steele, Sink Ya Teeth’s Maria Uzor and Gemma Cullingford, Gabe Gurnsey (Factory Floor), and Manchester luminaries Mike Joyce of The Smiths and Eric Random.
“This album is a culmination of everything we’ve ever done,” explains bassist/vocalist Jez Kerr. “The reworks were crucial,” adds drummer Donald Johnson. “They got us back in the studio and forced a union and a bond. They allowed us to start getting a groove again.” Tthe band broke down every track on ACR Loco for us, citing influences from Chaka Khan to sci-fi movies to their own older material.
ACR Loco is out today on Mute. Read the track-by-track below.
1. “Friends Around Us”
This song was originally called “Berimbau” because it started with the idea of using a berimbau, a Brazilian instrument. Martin owns two of these, which he took to the studio one day and gave Donald a quick crash course in how to play it. The berimbaus you hear at the start are a result of our first-ever berimbau jam. The rest of the tune was built around this.
The song is in two parts. Because the first half is such a slow tempo (due to the berimbau), we decided to double the tempo and create part two.
2. “Bouncy Bouncy”
This song started off as a jam and developed into a great song. It is inspired by our love of the band Zapp, and also our love of go-go music. The vocal was originally written on the vocoder and it features the vocal of our beautiful friend and colleague Denise Johnson, who sadly passed away in July this year.
3. “Yo Yo Gi”
The name comes from our visit to Japan in January this year—Yoyogi is an area of Tokyo. The voices you hear at the start of the song is a recording that we made on the subway in Tokyo. The song is inspired by another song of ours called “Spirit Dance” on our 1990 album ACR:MCR.
This features the voice of Gabe Gurnsey and is inspired by our love of all things P-Funk. It was originally titled “Take My Dream” from Donald’s lyric, but after we added Martin’s “Supafreak” vocoder we decided to change the name.
5. “Always in Love”
Everybody needs a love song, and this is ACR Loco’s contribution. This is one of the rare songs on the album that we actually rehearsed a few years ago and has a similar vibe to “I Won’t Stop Loving You,” taken from ACR:MCR.
This also features the amazing vocals of our Denise. The lyrics on this are so current, and it was one of the first songs we recorded on the album.
7. “Get a Grip”
This started off as a jam after hearing Chaka Khan’s “Like Sugar.” Our keyboard player Matt shares writing duties on this. It sounded so much like an old authentic funk tune that we needed to give it a twist. We sent it to Maria from Sink Ya Teeth and she wrote and recorded an amazing vocal which gave it the twist it needed.
Along with “Always in Love,” possibly the most poppy tune on the album. Jez came up with the idea after a recent visit to Berlin—hopefully it will be a smash hit in Berlin.
9. “What’s Wrong”
This is inspired by the 1971 sci-fi movie THX-1138. We asked Maria and Gemma from Sink Ya Teeth, Eric Random, and Mike Joyce to record lines of dialog, which they sent back to us. It was such fun going through these, and we were in hysterics listening through them because some of the outtakes were left in. We put them all together and what you hear is a great result
10. “Taxi Guy”
During our fortieth anniversary tour last year we ended up going out into the audience and playing percussion. This tune is built around that Brazilian rhythm we were playing. It’s a mad samba acid jam and features some amazing sax from Tony. It’s called “Taxi Guy” because the voices you hear at the start are South American taxi driver conversations.