29
Sep 04

THE SQUARE TABLE 18 / Alcazar – “This Is The World We Live In”

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POP FACTOR: 857 CONTROVERSY RATING: 174

My second favourite record of the year – ten out of ten! Ten squared! Can I justify that? Maybe. There are a lot of things I can use music for – catharsis, communication, comfort, profundity, scratching a technophile itch, a hundred others. In my life music has done some of these things well, some poorly. But what are the things that only music can do to me? One is make me dance – not that I do enough of that, these days. The other is to give me what this gives me, a joyful moment of self-erasing, transporting intensity. Almost nothing else – and certainly no other artform – can provide that wide-eyed feeling, which comes without effort, cost or consequence.

The feeling isn’t always ‘happy’ but it’s always linked with excitement, like something’s heating up my spirit. The feeling isn’t often transferable and you can’t talk someone into it: I might get it from a stitch-up of Diana Ross and Genesis, you might be repelled. It can come and go, which is why I don’t often stand by lists. I can enjoy and admire and discuss music that doesn’t give me the feeling, in fact for the sake of conversation I prefer to leave it implied (pretend you never read this post). Sometimes everything on the radio can give me it a little; sometimes nothing can, and the songs which sent me to heaven yesterday can leave me vaguely satisfied tomorrow. But that clean hit on the pleasure centres is the irreplacable and highest truth of music for me: almost everything else is justification. 10 Joker (Tom)

I’m not entirely sure that my puny words can do this monster of a track Justice. The warped imagination of the someone who thought “i know what Upside Down needs, THE CHORUS TO LAND OF CONFUSION!” is *exactly* the sort of person we Need in the world we call pop. “And then i shall get four beautiful android kids to front it and TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!!” The verses are delicious euro-nonsense, but hey, it doesn’t matter who you are, when you’re moving up with Alcazar. 10 Joker (Carsmile Steve)

I love songs which are song with lyrics which are sung in a deeply meaningful, heartfelt way – where said songs also have completely ridiculous words. I am not talking about the “Cos we’re moving up with Alcazar” bits, rather the Genesis original ones. Pompous, over-blown and a perfect fit to this pumping pop Porsche of a song.

Yes it is the soundtrack to ridiculous drinking at Glastonbury and as such cannot even be touched objectively, but if dancing round and through fire whilst off ones nut on calamacho makes me unable to judge this beauty properly then so be it. 10 Joker (Pete)

Disco double-handclaps! 10 Joker (cis)

The exact polar opposite of Gary Jules and yet more proof that production and arrangement are more important than the songs themselves. This takes the chorus from a frankly rubbish Phil Collins record and makes it brilliant purely by whacking on a hook nicked from Diana Ross’s ‘Upside Down’, a big chunky disco beat and the sort of unselfconscious sugar rush that British pop has largely abandoned since the sad demise of the original S Club. I first heard this at 1am at Glastonbury, dancing drunkenly round a tape recorder and grinning from ear to ear at the end of what is up there as one of the most out-and-out FUN days of my life. And every single time I’ve heard it since, that same ear-to-ear grin has been impossible to suppress. 10 (Matt D’Cruz)

In the beginning was the word, and the word was POP! Alcazar turn the book of Genesis upside down, and welcome you to the world God forgot to create. This is discotopia: entry free, dress smart casual (no indie-scruff here, please), soundtrack Abba, Janet Jackson, George Michael and Metallica (Tess’s favourite band). Impeccable pop classicists Alcazar have filled the Steps-shaped hole in my heart, and they can do the same for you, you and all of you. 10 (alext)

First heard this blaring out of Ricky T’s portable stereo at about 1am at Glastonbury. Instant Svensk-pop thrills from that magical land with such a terrific knack for this stuff. It feels like a BIG tune even before you reach the Genesis-pilfering chorus – that being the extra fruity segments atop this scintillating cheesecake. Problem with cheesecake is too much of it makes you feel sick very quickly, but with Alcazar the judgement and measures seem as balanced as can be, a strained but earnest degree of soul in the vocals and the slickness of production suggesting they genuinely love and believe in what they do. That’ll be having colossal amounts of fun then. I’m unsure of its durability but when they’re this focused on ‘right here, right now’ maybe I should be as well. And the thought of a hundred or so outrageous campers exploding with glee as this song is played at ‘that sort’ of club just makes me smile. 9 (Steve M)

They pillage, they plunder, they triumph. It really doesn’t matter who Alcazar’s latest sampling casualties are as long as they keep making bouncy and chirpy Europop as enjoyably brain-dead as this. Phil Collins come back, you never sounded so good. The lyrics may seem to be a sequel to Jacko’s “Heal The World,” but perhaps there are deeper things at hand.

To me, the way that Genesis and Diana Ross are rudely appropriated for Alcazar’s personal gain is akin to the way an average person brazenly manipulates another for their own advancement. When Alcazar sing “This is the world we live in / Let’s make it a place worth living,” the implicit context is all skillful exploitation of Genesis’ melody, while the explicit context is all about people bonding together for the well-being of the world. Contradiction city! Both contexts are pitted against each other as the song plays, and in the end, I have to say goodbye to the betterment of the world – because I’d rather be moving on up with Alcazar! 8.5 (Michael F Gill)

Alcazar haven’t done anything for ages – perhaps biding their time, waiting to pick the finest blend of pop tunes in the time honoured manner of the Man From Del Monte. Upside Down and Land Of Confusion are both fantastic tunes, and work together wonderfully- the tough Diana Ross boogie tune mind-expanded by an 80s concept pop lyric. And if you miss the Diana Ross vocal, that compact, sassy shuffle, well the melody is quoted by the guitars anyway. This is easily the sum of its quality ingredients, and more besides. 8 (Derek Walmsley)

Oh. Oh my. Well. Yes. Of course. 8 (Forksclovetofu)

Both of the voices and most of the upbeat and rather vacuous lyrics (fires Keeping circles turning?) remind me of happy hardcore, but the rest is much more europop, with a big slice of Francophile filter-disco – it made better sense after Listening to Daft Punk on my walkman during a fag break from the office. I think the only thing I don’t like is the strained ‘uh-ohh-oh’ backing vocal. I know nothing of these people (I think I may be the most out of touch person doing these Square Table reviews), but I like this – a strong tune, and lively music. 8 (Martin Skidmore)

Aha. The force is strong with disco retro revivalists. They always work precisely because the original hook still sounds as great as ever. But I suppose the true test is if they stand up on their own. Alcazar bump through this as if they are the only survivors of the disco era and take great delight in trying to get everyone else “moving up with Alcazar”, like some sort of dance troupe, handclapping all over the place, skiffling and sliding, or something.

I can’t fault this. It should be ripping up the clubs up and down the country but I suspect it won’t, ever. My jiving will probably have to happen with me still firmly planted to my chair. 8 (MW_Jimmy)

I must’ve dreamed a thousand dreams. But one slipped into reality. Alcazar is a sound devoid of blemishes – every sound is hyperfiltered, all fuzziness erased– so you’re left with… nothing tangible. But that’s what (Swedish) Pop is: a parallel world full of peroxide bouffant hairdos, ultra-pink handbags and winking lads. It’s a one way ticket, baby, your fake nail stuck between the stereo buttons. “This Is The World We Live In” doesn’t give a tiny Jordan’s bum about problems, it’s about Prozac induced madness. You’re stuck with a screaming grin but, strangely, there’s no way you can dance to it. Hmm. It could be merely the Diana Ross sample, it could be the cheeky way they sampled Land Of Confusion or it could merely be the Swedes re-enlisting Army of Lovers for world control. Whatever. Let’s Pop. 8 (Stevie Nixed)

I thought I might hate this, but I don’t. It’s cheesy and meta, and that’s Okay with me. I guess it’s ‘social’ music – for dancing about to, and that’s pretty alien to me, but when the video comes on, I don’t turn over to one of the shopping channels. It could do with being a bit more Eurovision, i.e the vocals ain’t so great. 6.5 (Jel)

More filter disco, this time Diana Ross’ “Upside Down” (the groove of which pretty much works in any context, though I’d be staggeringly impressed had they chosen the Jesus & Mary Chain song). But “Land Of Confusion” by Genesis is not welcome in ANY context. Not even the wonderful world of Irony would welcome this duffer. The end result is a mental Battle Royale of imagery. Hey! I’m on the dance floor! Wha?! Genesis puppets?! The dance floor! Puppets! Buzzkill, Genesis is thy name. 6 (Henry Scollard)

As much as I should love this, the band seems committed to making it a difficult relationship. Winning me over would seem easy; people accuse me of delighting in plastic, “manufactured” pop music, and I take that characterization . But as much as I love the transcendant sample, the band fails to do it justice. Naivety and insincerity swamp the chorus, and the last minute or so are unbearable. But a great first thirty seconds or so mean a 5. (Atnevon)

Hey! A Swedish pop group where the guys are cuter than the girls! Now that’s what I call music! If they could sample “Land of Confusion”, slap on the “Upside Down” chorus, and make THAT bounce in their disco castle, then I’d really be impressed. On the other (good? bad?) hand, I think I sense a bit of anti-war dissidence in the lyrics (yeah, you BET someone’s filled with hate over here in Terror Inc.), but that’s because I have “Toy Soldiers” on the brain when I should be chewing on “Super Troop-oop-er”. But, yeah, Alcazar + Miss Ross + Philbo Baggins = a move up not so much; more like a push sideways. 5 (David Raposa)

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