Isn't he the cutest? The one and only H.P. Lovecraft, everybody!
It’s Sunday! And you know what that means... no, it doesn’t mean that there’s still one whole day until I belatedly post my rundown of the songs I’ve removed from my playlist this week. No, it means that it’s the first Sunday this year on which I post that rundown on schedule, is what it means. This week’s eleven tracks are down from the previous two weeks’ twelve, and the slimming trend might continue as I find my feet with this thing again, or it might not.
As always, links to previous instalments are here
, along with an outdated explanation of the concept. If you want to comment, but can’t be bothered to register or log in to Last.fm, you can send me an email at (karlruben squiggly gmail fullstop com). If you want to listen, clicking on any of the track titles sends you to the corresponding l.fm page, which usually contains either a YouTube embed or a link to listen at Hype Machine
With that out of the way, here’s The Cull!* Enon
- In This City (Remix By Deadverse)
There’s something to be said for completism, at least the kind you’re driven to when one of your all-time favourite bands doesn’t release anything for FOUR WHOLE YEARS. To wit, this remix from one of the singles from High Society
At first I thought Toko Yasuda’s vocals sounded uncomfortable and out-of-place without the original’s skittish snare and bass lines to bounce off of, but closer listening revealed this to be more strength than weakness. Even if Yasuda’s phrasings mirrors the rhythm section’s rapid fire, her laidback delivery originally embodied the lyric’s pivotal line - “we found ourselves numb in this city
” - slouching against the music’s more insistent portrayal of urban hustle and bustle. In the remix, this is turned on its head; the drowsy, half-tempo instrumental do-over retaining none of the previous mania, so now, those very same phrasings are the only reminder of the original’s breathless metropolis.
(Note: I assume that this piece of dubby greatness originates from dälek
’s Jersey studio facilities
, not the Swiss hardcore band
.)* The Explorers Club
- Last Kiss
Endearing throwback or faux-naive and futile exercise in nostalgia? The music's pleasant enough; energetic performances and spot-on production capturing a bygone era of surfing and sunshine (or at least the surfing and sunshine on the covers of old records). Start paying attention to the lyrics, though, and the teenager-in-love thing starts to stick in the craw. The song's odious narrator demands to have his cake and eat it too, breaking it off with his paramour at the start of the song, stating that their "love's become a bring-down
", but then proceeding to spend the rest of the time fetishising the relationship and the sight of it in his rear-view mirror. Now, this might
be a scathing commentary on nostalgia - and therefore a frighteningly astute one, packaged in pastiche as it is, but to me it just sounds like bunch of twenty-somethings playing at being fourteen. In 1964.* Housemeister
While listening, I consistently misremembered the title as “Psycho!”, thinking it very fitting; the stop-start, never-gelling nature of the track bringing to mind some weird fever dream, maybe even psychosis. The actual title doesn't really fit into that - if anything it seems malapropos, the song more brittle than hard, more meandering than unstoppable - though it does have a crushing effect, kind of, never letting its foot off that weirdness-and-calamity pedal.* Laakso
- Worst Case Scenario
The song explodes. It has to explode, because it can’t possibly contain this heartbreak. A special kind of heartbreak (like anyone’s heartbreak), seen through a kaleidoscopic magnifying glass, heard while curled up inside
the guitars, keys, microphones, drums. That heartbreak reverberating everything; drums and guitars even sounding like they've been recorded in the cavern inside where the broken heart used to be before The Special Someone plucked it out and stomped on it. Or maybe, maybe he did that himself? I can’t really tell from the lyrics, Markus Krunegård
’s voice bursting with the heartbreak, mangling his Swenglish beyond recognition. No matter, though, it’s supposed to be that way, because he “can't control his hope, can't control his dreams, can't eat can't sleep can't do anything
”, so should he really be expected to enunciate? The heartbreak says no.* Mystery Jets
- Half In Love With Elizabeth (Electric Version)
It’s not often you hear a (mostly) straight forward rock song dominated by zany effects to this degree. It’s a catchy and fine tune in its own right, so I'm not saying that it would have been worse off without those production touches... hm, wait a minute, I actually am, since the studio take
from Twenty One
two years on is definitely lacking in comparison. The guitar and organ bubble, zing and sputter, functioning like the sonic equivalent of the buffers in a pinball game, bouncing the shining ball of melody between them, buffeting it along to an unbeatable high score.
The later version still retains shades of oddness (and it does work lovely in the context of the album), but both the effects and performances are reined in, losing much of the free-wheeling momentum.* Panda Bear
- Bros (album version)
To me, listening to this isn't like listening to a song, it's like listening to someone telling me of a song they love. Completely failing to get their enthusiasm across, failing to relate the greatness of the song, outlining every detail but leaving out its heart and soul. I've listened to this almost twenty times, and there was this ONE time when I felt the faintest flutter, like something about it touched me, but it was brief, it was gone, and it hasn't been felt since. By any rights, at least the lyrics should hit me like a ton of bricks (it’s one of those eerie cases when you feel like they could’ve been written specifically for you), but "Bros" fails to push any of my buttons. It just does nothing for me at all.* Sunny Day Sets Fire
- Wilderness (CSS Remix)
I can't quite grasp the lyrics, but don't necessarily feel the need to either, it’s enough just to feel that menace, the sense of foreboding created. It’s there in the melody as well, isolated moments when the vocal seems to be struggling against the chords placed beneath it, building on the exquisite, unresolved tension in the lyrics. They seemingly seesaw between contempt and fear, trying to deliver some choice insults to a person who has done something to put you in terrible danger, but the barbs flail and miss, the very same danger sapping your attention. It’s like hearing one of H.P. Lovecraft’s narrators breaking into song; "what did you expect to see when you came into the wilderness
" - the question mark followed by exclamation mark implicit. We’re hearing a person who has proven a theory; that a mortal mind can't handle what lies beyond our limited understanding; but that gloating is tempered by the fact that no-one can handle the wilderness. It has driven him to the brink of madness, for his is but a mortal mind too...
Both in this remix and the original, the vocals exist some degrees to the side of the rest of the music, giving credence to my just-now-formulated theory that the song might be a piece of found sound from the aether, pulled down and orchestrated by Sunny Day Sets Fire
- Int'l Players Anthem (I Choose You)
I’m unsure of how intentional it is, but it’s telling how much Pimp C
, Bun B
and Big Boi
sound like cartoons next to Andre 3000
’s warm and love-fuzzy opening verse. The song becomes a study of masculine archetypes in microcosm, rolling out the family man, the sex-crazed maniac, the unsentimental entrepreneur and the bitter divorcee in quick succession. You might decide to overlook some of the more dubious sentiments contained within, and just focus on the way everyone involved bring so much warmth and/or fire that they threaten to outshine even that glorious Willie Hutch sample. Come to think of it, I’ll do just that. (Hat-tip to the ever-great Tom Breihan
for helping me parse my own conflicted feelings about this track.)* Vampire Weekend
- Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
Interesting how you can appropriate a sound from somewhere else, and simply by being present in the music, alter all its connotations. A few deftly chosen, evocative phrases, a telling title, sweaters draped around necks, and it takes on an unmistakable feeling of an entirely different feeling - from the Cape of Good Hope to the Cape of Cod.
Bonus: Richard frickin’ Ayoade directed the video
for this! I did not know that!* Waldorf
So you manage to successfully adapt a classic poem into a stonking postpunkfunk/disco/(whisperit)prog Frankenstein's monster, retaining the feeling of desperate midnight's ride to hell any "Erlkönig
" adap worth its salt should. You commit to it, with admirably straight faces and able voices call-and-responsing the back and forth between the worried father, his sick child and the elfin temptors, and then you bottle it on the final stretch? Huh.
It's not that the disco rev-up/freak-out at the end here doesn't work, but as a capper, it seems forced, a way to get out of the poem's dire, abrupt ending by replacing it with an instrumental part which more or less seems like the equivalent of letting that horse just ride on into the fog instead, to be continued
For how it’s really done, go here
, mosey over to the list of tracks on the right, click on “flere spor” and then play the one called (natch) Erlkönig
- I Believe In You
If you have to know, it's because of self esteem and body image issues, okay? And if you're going to go on about it like that, at least own it, don't start going off on metaphysical tangents. "Is it finite
", my arse.