I'd totally forgotten how bonkers and utterly bizarre that album is! Perhaps the most quintessentially British album ever this side of Willy Wonka, "Death By Chocolate" (2000) is a concept album by Mike Always who, it turns out, was head of A&R at Cherry Red Records, a label that helped launch bands such as Felt, The Monochrome Set or Everything But The Girl.
In 2001, Always hooked up with some musicians and a 19 year-old hotel maid (!) called Angie Tillett and they set upon recording Death By Chocolate's debut album, which brings elements of freakbeat and 60s psych together with Angie's dry monologues. On most songs you won't hear her sing but recite an endless litany of all the things that were considered sweet, innocuous or innocent in decades past, kind of like a Prevert catalogue of sweet little nothings. The songs on which she actually sings are also really good, very folksy and comforting.
The end result is quite surprising and also, truth be told, a bit creepy at times. It almost sounds like a robotic, machine recreation of a long-gone past teenage England that never existed in the first place. The music is more cheerful than all the later "hauntological" bands that would follow but there's a sense of incoming dread that I can't shake off. Or maybe I'm reading too much into this? Another album called 'Zap The World' would follow in 2002 and they briefly returned with a 3rd release much later called "Bric-a-brac" in 2012.
I found this delicious interview that was made when the debut album came out and when they were really pushing the whole "sweet teenage chambermaid loner from the provinces" concept very hard. Makes me think of Pizzicato Five's delirious recreation of what made pop 'pop' a decade prior!
Current regurgitations of popular artefacts