I need to stop listening to this damn album, so I’m just going to try writing in this little (but expanding) box on the internet, the geography of the mind map I find myself occupying in the hope that I can move on – even just a little – to the next grid reference. I feel sorry for poor Little Boots and even Rudimental who only got a couple of weeks before relegation to listening time’s opportunity cost.
Every now and then an album digs its multiple hooks into me and just gloms on and drags me through a cycle of compulsive listening, through a trough of listening and hating that I’m listening to it and little else, and out into a place where I can consider leaving it, say a week, coming back to it later with an ‘oh, yes this IS still awesome’. Listening out of order is hard, and the point where I’m skipping around is the point where I know I’m on the voyage home to sanity.
This mania happened to me most recently with the Nero album, but not as intensely (I found quite a few tracks on it patchy in the end), and I have to go back to when I lost all perspective over Late of the Pier.
Which I *think* was also the last time I went to a gig (*thinks again* that doesn’t sounds right, but…). And I did get to the point with Charli of hovering over a BUY button for an Islington Academy gig a few weeks back now. I had to stop myself, because then it started to feel creepy.
The Late of the Pier gig I felt conspicuous in because I was basically surrounded by the cast of skins taking mobile phone photos of each other in various faux-snogging poses. But once the music was playing it didn’t bother me – and I thought little more of them until I found myself wanting to apologise to the few I barged into during an aggressive shit-losing dance to Focker. And the band was all boys, and (being straight) it felt OK to me to be in awe of the music these young men were playing.
I recall the point when I started being older than the bands I liked – and that was 20 years ago (hello Ride, Ash, Altern-8). So yes that makes me old for a gig goer – and that would be OK if I went to the gigs of the bands I grew up with. There’s a little pre-gig game checking out the demographics of such gigs, and how they’d shifted and expanded and receded.
Anyway, I’m not a music journo with a ready-made excuse card that says ‘talk to the commission cos the social awkwardness ain’t listening’, so following the thought of a ticket for a gig to watch a very young woman – I couldn’t do it.
So rather than dwell on the fact that I’m DEFINITELY NOT CREEPY, this takes me instead to the place that these songs (like Ride and Ash 20 years previously) were being written by a person at an age – where I was cruising through my A-levels and pirating games for the ZX-Spectrum. And it still astounds me that someone can do this at such a young age, and I have, in comparison, wasted my life faffing about with computers.
Reaching back for artists I like in the same solo-female category (sorry Ride and Ash), working great stuff at that age there’s PJ Harvey, Bjork, and then further back Kate Bush – has highlighted one big difference, with these artists – lyrical ‘simplicity’. It’s a criticism I’d be unsurprised to hear being made, but one I think I’m going to try and deflect. Though as lyrics have always come in a distant second in coming to love the musical output of an artist, it’s not going to be a strong defence.
The content of the songs on this album are direct with a beguiling apparent lack of guile. That’s my defence in a nutshell, if clumsily put. They lack the precocious literacy and hippie-child poetry of Kate Bush. They lack the powerful feminine rage of early PJ Harvey. But precocity is not innately positive – acting and conveying your age is not a bad thing. Caustic observations on the male–female power dynamic are lovely (bless them, the ladies!), but there’s other truthful, maybe more banal observations to be made. Where banal != boring.
To be fair the songs are not without figure, they’re just applied with a measure of restraint – Nuclear Seasons being the exception that has a governing theme/metaphor. But it’s the plainer language that rings truer – a clichéd prose “And then it hits me like a ton of bricks” or basic poesy like “You’re the one that’s been stealing stars” seems more on point and honest for an 18-19 year old reaching to convey actual emotional states than anything more distractingly wrought.
Poetry was never my strong point, and clearly I don’t value originality as much as some – but the overall effect is of a child struggling and not communicating expertly. Perhaps that’s not the intention, and the author would rather that not be my judgement – but authorial intention can go hang.
Anyway, did I mention I LOVE THESE SONGS?!?! So I think I’m going to stop (900 words, by now, you say?) and just list songs in order of most awesome (A+++) to slightly less awesome (B)…
- Lock You Up
- You’re The One
- You (Ha Ha Ha)
- Take My Hand
- Set Me Free
- Black Roses
- Nuclear Seasons
- Set Me Free
- How Can I
- So Far Away
- Cloud Aura