Posts from 3rd April 2003

3
Apr 03

The Cheeky Girls – Take Your Shoes Off

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The Cheeky Girls – Take Your Shoes Off

Take your shoo-sies off, woo! Ah, the Cheeky Girls are back and seemingly reprogrammed. Objective: prove that the Cheeky Song was merely a statement of intent, that chart domination is inevitable. This new song is the best synth pop song in a very long time, it sounds like the Silicon Teens with its melancholy synth beat tune and otherworldly vocodor-ised vocals. There is a sense of sadness and cool detachment at the core of this track, an acceptance that pop stardom won’t last, of built in obsoleteness. Do androids dream of the Cheeky Girls? I think so.

Anything Goes-Cole Porter

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Anything Goes-Cole Porter

The song is too clever by half, it moves to quickly, it has awkward rhymes, its not nearly as sophisticated as it thinks it is, but when you hear a really good reading (Ella Fitzgerald right now), you feel like wearing a bespoke suit and drinking a cold g&t, which is really a pain in the ass, b/c when the whiplash comes, you may spill yr drink-which really is a sin.

and while i’m here, a recent bio has discovered a lost verse, which i really wish was restored :
You’re the burning heat of a bridal suite in use
Youre the breasts of Venus
Youre King Kongs Penis
Youre Self Abuse

Neumu’s saving grace Philip Sherburne

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Neumu’s saving grace Philip Sherburne weighs in on the fanatics/dilettantes debate which I seem to have inadvertently started, concluding an interesting column with a stirring rallying cry – “Here’s to outsiders getting it all wrong.” Well, exactly. On an ILM techno thread yesterday, Dan accused Ronan of worrying about the ‘wrong kind of people’ listening to dance music, but I think the crucial debates aren’t really about who is listening but where they’re listening. Lots of people who’ve got into writing on the internet have an almost automatic irritation with territorial authenticity claims – the privileges granted by being in the club, or the ‘hood, or the gig. It’s also why launches like BANG! (new UK music mag, much discussed on ILM) seem so weird to me – clinging to a frontline-fanzine-reporting model of popcrit, I was T-H-E-R-E at the gig/interview/promo CD handout/whatever and you, gentle reader, were not, though I speak for you now. “Passion” recast as another kind of territory-kudos.

SOFT CELL — ‘Facility Girls (12″)’

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Girl group records and Roy Lichtenstein pictures make a too-familiar cultural couple. The four-colour hand dabbing handkerchief to eye; the switchback between sass and heartbreak – what do they have in common, really? Sentiment, I suppose, but a Lichtenstein is so flat next to a Crystals record. Girl group records — cheap, interchangeable, ridiculous, beautiful — are in one way much more like the comics Roy stole from.

The ‘Facility Girls’ 12″ (don’t bother with the 7″ version) opens with a muffled syndrum version of the ‘Be My Baby’ beat, that trans-genre icon of pop intent. What it then turns into is a girl group record — sung by an androgynous boy — that does run on Lichtenstein’s lines. It’s clinical, distanced, faintly creepy. The song is a portrait of a girl, a secretary, ‘a bright young thing with a promising career’, dreaming of a mechanic – the hint of a sneer, there. We go in closer, the melodies drop out and the comic book frame fills our field of vision, closer yet, the printed dots separating, each one of them a muffled synth pulse as Marc Almond’s voice becomes a murmur and suddenly we’re inside a thought bubble, between the letters. Is it the girl’s, or Marc’s, or her lover’s? It’s an unpleasant, truthful place to be, this bubble, Marc hissing a confession as the music crawls over your skin. ‘You’re everything I like and everything I despise / Why don’t you leave me?’

The song starts up again. The girl goes home and turns out the light. ‘It’s like a page from True Love Stories’ sings Marc, and Lichtenstein would have sympathised. Just one page, however much you might want to turn to the next. Nothing is resolved, which you might say is the difference between Lichtenstein’s art and his sources. But gallery-framed ambiguity sometimes just looks smug: the pop song, on the other hand, is a perfect delivery system for emotional freeze-frames, recasting ambiguities as cliffhangers. ‘Facility Girls’ hovers between these impulses, telling and twisting its sob story simultaneously. Sometimes I think it’s the best thing they ever did; sometimes I just flip to the A Side.