Posts from 16th October 2000

Oct 00

future bible heroes —

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future bible heroes — i’m lonely (and i love it):

“surely you’ve gone too far now,” i told myself. “sure, 69 love songs was great but it wasn’t that long ago that you put down that huge import price for the 3-CD set. and then that gothic archies cd from the trip to new york. and those copies of get lost and charm of the highway strip are still getting lots of play. how much stephin merritt do you really need? and how much is healthy? and, more than anything, he didn’t even produce this record. his lyrics and vocals are pretty fabulous but it’s the elaborate studio arrangements, the ukeleles and clarinets piled on top of goofy electronic raindrops and raspberries, the miked slinkies, the shoegazed-out new-wave concoctions that, if not define his greatness, at least, well, complete the equation. what side are you on, sound or songwriting?”

a surprise then that chris ewen should turn out the star of this ep. the lyrics and vocals do round things out quite nicely but the pristine technopop constructions are what really glisten here, from the dripsody-perfect drops of the title track to the waves crashing behind the “cafe hong kong” to the headphones-compatible blips of the broken-hearted last dance “good thing i don’t have any feelings.” all traces of organic mess are cleaned out of the magnetic fields, leaving polish and shine and, in jane suck’s words, “hearts held together with cellophane tape.”

and merritt does round things out. “i’m lonely (and i love it)” is a refreshing change of attitude, expressed through some of his finest rhymes. everyone’s heard the line about mt everest by now so instead i’ll quote “i’m lonely as narcissus gazing in his mirrored pond/ wearing all the clothes you hate and going back to blond/ staying out all hours in my seedy demimonde/ if you have something to tell me please don’t correspond.” “good thing” is one of the finest new-wave melodies, delivered in his bleakest voice, reminiscent of a crooning michael gira. “my blue hawaii,” an ebm track about the tourist resort island is an acquired taste but not too hard to acquire.

claudia gonson’s vocals are the most dubious element of the record. while she suits some of merritt’s more indie-pop-informed arrangements, her affectless girlish delivery doesn’t stand up as strongly in this colder, harder climate. at best, she presents merritt’s melodies and lyrics without getting too much in the way.

but that production . . .

eBay UK item 469441722

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eBay UK item 469441722: people would pay how much for that????.

BACKSTREET BOYS – “Shape Of My Heart”

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BACKSTREET BOYS – “Shape Of My Heart”

Teenpop on its knees: the Backstreets swap their usual robotix for Abbafied mid-tempo slickness, and the lyrics have a sinister, intriguing edge. “Save me from the man I’ve become” they sing and try as I might it’s this line that’s stuck in my head these last few days, in the place where normally Morrissey or Murdoch might have burrowed, niggling at me, asking me questions. Do I need redemption? Hardly, or at least not like they mean it: I’m just a bored twentysomething trying not to make any more decisions than I have to. Do I want to need it? Ah, that’s a different story.

And meanwhile the song is mysterious and smooth and gooey: the “kept you in the dark” hooklet, where the chorus tumbles over itself, is the neatest bit of pop writing in a while. Just like Fred says, when the Backstreets’ songwriters are on form/on formula, they’re impeccable – if you want ‘classic songwriting’ or whatever it’s here you should be looking, not to fusty curatorial types like the Elephant Six crew. But I could care less about classicism: all I hear is a single which sneaks up on me and gets in as deep as any pop has. You should buy it.

COLOR FILTER – Satellite Of Love TURBONEGRO – Suffragette City

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COLOR FILTER – Satellite Of Love
TURBONEGRO – Suffragette City

The cover version: two approaches. Color Filter take the shy-shuffly-beats route so familiar to all indiepop listeners – think Stars’ “This Charming Man” if you want. But while you can all too easily imagine it filling up space on side two of a glitter-coated C110, it has a charm Lou’s strung-out original lacks. Plus it’s a good move for the band: Color Filter have ideas and heart but so far not the songwriting skills to knit them into very much – a kooky cover halfway through their album thickens it a bit. Turbonegro’s attitude is the simpler and better one, mind. Their “Suffragette City” misses Bowie’s stagey whine, but it adds more drums, more kick, more sex, more guitar, more rock, and wisely it doesn’t tamper at all with that titanium glam hook. They understand the sole point of the cover: to take a song, and to do it better.

POP-EYE 15/10/00

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POP-EYE 15/10/00

I have a wretched headache, for once not drink-induced. Oh, alright, when it started yesterday evening it was probably drink-induced, but it’s gone on far too long now and is almost certainly a brain tumour. In my stricken state, kicking off with a critique of U2‘s chart-topping “Beautiful Day” is quite beyond me, so I’ll turn my attention to the record it beat to No.1, Robbie’n’Kylie‘s awful “Kids”. Robbie puts on that particular bellow of his – you know, the one he thinks makes him sound rockin’. Kylie, horribly, follows suit, and while the whole song flaps like a banked trout her contribution is a lot worse. The dark secret of Kylie is that she was never good: it does pop a disservice to pretend otherwise. She can barely squeak and she’s absolutely lacking in charisma – when the most complimentary adjective a pop star merits is “perky”, you’re onto a loser.

The best new entry this week is “Dooms Night” by Azzido Da Bass, hands down. The Autumn’s big dance hits have been all about cool noises, a trend to be encouraged I rather think. Azzido’s vweop-vweop-vweop acid chopper sound is the making of “Dooms Night”, and the Trojan Horse which gets its stark rhythms and nasty bass into the Top 10. One objection: the single edit is too short and bitty, though you can console yourselves with remixes that are (gasp!) actually worth playing.

Otherwise, blah. Second-rank pop outfits (Atomic Kitten, Madison Avenue) shuffled together with has-beens like Lionel Richie. A low entry for Muse‘s “Muscle Museum”, thank the Lord – the first indications perhaps that Kid A‘s art detour has raised the stakes for the ‘head-wannabe bands? Or is it just that it’s an infernally poor record? And speaking of poor records, U Bloody 2, back like a rash with the same grandiose waffle they’ve always peddled. Every time they say that they’re returning to their roots, and this time, sadly, the hype seems to have taken. Vacuous but stirring pop can work, but Bono’s voice is too grainy and funless to let this song lift off. The most – the only – fun you can have with “Beautiful Day” is when Bono yells, “Touch me!”, and you can sing along to A-Ha’s “The Sun Always Shines On TV”, a better song by half. But it’s hard to care. The whole exercise feels like a re-enactment, not a step forward: U2 have surely been more hateful but rarely more irrelevant.

ALL SAINTS – “Black Coffee” (3)
KERNKRAFT 400 – “Zombie Nation” (7)
AZZIDO DA BASS – “Dooms Night” (8)
EMINEM – “The Way I Am” (13)
BAHA MEN – “Who Let The Dogs Out?” (14)