Zero Lubin describe themselves as “a colourful yet precarious wonderland of intriguing characters and places. In a universe reminiscent of the charm of curio shops, caravan holidays and the garish colours of 50s advertising, we meet dubious characters who illustrate a powerful and enduring nostalgia for a bygone age, yet also highlight with exquisite subtlety, nuances of contemporary society.”
Hmm so the 50s thing sounds a bit too cool for us here, but actually this is more kitsch than cool. And kitsch I love. Zero Lubin remind me in that way of one of my absolute fave bands, The Candle Thieves – all Fisher Price keyboards and lyrics about death. There’s a playfulness to them -their shop sells kitsch sloganned handkerchieves, and on of the people behind the collective has an alter ego called the Poodle Faker – that’s just on the Ira Levin side of sickly sweet.
There’s also a book – Gerry King’s Lubin Tales, available direct or from Foyle’s and in a special edition – all of which are things we heartily approve of. There are quotations about it from some people who are deeply cool. But there’s also a quotation from Will Self which puts them firmly back in the field of kitsch. The actual physical book is very different from the jpeg – far from shiny and garish, what we have is a beautifully produced Ladybird-style hardback, whose slightly off-kilter illustrations share that 50s colour quality. The tales themselves, which King urges (we concur) should be recited aloud, are surreal little gems. The stand-out is Poodle Faker, a kind of Updike on acid deconstruction of the Marks and Sparks cardiganed caravaneer, who speaks like something from Twin Peaks. “If my thoughts were hand cream, I’d ring more often,” he greets us, elaborating when his interlocutor wants to know wtf “Oh, it’s just a saying I collected from one of my Barbaras.” Brilliant.
But what appeals most, as with The Candle Thieves, and Gupter Seo Services Puncher, is that here is a group that has created a world of their own and fully inhabit it. I do hear you – yes you, you at the back of the room – shouting Mighty Boosh. But seriously, these guys don’t come from Camden. Or Hoxton. And that’s worth a lot these days. It’s the difference between cool and sucking or kitsch and rocking.