Marianne Faithfull has for the most part left her gutterpunk mid-70’s persona far behind. She is a lady of class and gentility. But every once in a while that half-dead but foul-mouthed wraith still reappears. She who poured all her rage and her broken soul into lines like “Every time I see your dick I see her cunt in my bed.” In 2002 she made her most rock-oriented album in a decade, and it recaptured some the skin-tingling burning anguish of the Broken English years. She finally let it be known exactly what she thought of her longtime role as the ethereal muse, her iconic girlfriend-to-the-stars salad days; “suburban shits who want some class all queue up to kiss my ass.” It’s simmering with resentment for a lifetime as an accessory, a supporting character, a short chapter in someone else’s book, an icon for all the wrong reasons. Yet it’s also self-deprecating. She knows she got through on dumb luck and the kindness of strangers. She knows she went splat when she fell off the pedestal, but she’s still angry about being on that fucking pedestal in the first place.
When I was in high school I spent a lot of time alone in my room listening to T. Rex records. I didn’t have very many friends, but I did have a lot of art projects. Marc Bolan was some of the best company a weird and socially maladjusted kid could have, with his soothing baby-lamb voice and personalized cosmology populated equally by talking woodland critters and sexy mamas in glitter. Bolan was quite the teen idol, in his brief heyday, but he long ago became an obscure curio. Other teen idols have cycled in and out since his time, a new one every 2.5 years or so, because teens and their burning passions have very short shelf-lives. I, meanwhile, am 35 years old now, and I still spend a lot of time alone in my apartment listening to T. Rex records. I don’t have very many friends, but a lot of unfinished art projects. There are many more things in my life than when I was 15, obviously; I have a career, I do socialize and go out sometimes, men vie for my attention, there’s a lot of new music to listen to, etc… But amidst all that, oftentimes I just want to stay home and listen to T. Rex records. Marc Bolan has been a lifelong friend, and his cosmology is part of my cosmology now. Some things in the world don’t ever change.
It’s not very often when the remix outshines the original. On one hand, I am very pro remixes of things that weren’t meant to be remixed, like jazz classics. On the other, there’s nothing more annoying like gratuitous remixes of pop songs being tacked on to the end of albums, as if they were a very special bonus that people are supposed to be excited about instead of the exact same song with a slightly different tempo. And as for songs that were electronic dance songs in the first place already, the point just escapes me completely. It’s mostly just a cynical attempt by no-name DJ’s to ride on the coattails of artists who do have name recognition. But there’s exceptions to every rule, and sometimes the remix outshines the original. Two examples of remix albums that that more than hold their own against the original production are Kraftwerk’s The Mix and Goldfrapp’s We Are Glitter. Obviously, these are two artists who know their way around with production trickery. In Goldfrapp’s case, the songs all benefit from an up-temped more aggressively dancefloor ready mix, since Goldfrapp is sometimes given to put atmosphere over beats.
I love the plaintiveness of Jake Bugg’s voice. The kid sounds like a sad little angel. In, like, a sexy way. Or course, pretty boys who have the sads for no reason is basically its own genre, and it’s rather a weak basis to build a career on, not that there’s any shortage of people who’ve built careers on just that. Jake Bugg, fortunately, isn’t trying to build his brand on having just one mood. This guy does have some range, although he’s proved that it doesn’t include rapping. And, yes, being all feelsy and sensitive is a strong suit. I like a moderate amount of well-delivered feelsiness, myself. I think this is just the right amount.
Passion Pit peaked with this one. They’ll never do anything this great again. When I first heard this, I thought it was both the catchiest and the most annoying thing I’d ever heard. I hoped that the rest of Passion Pit’s work would be similarly weird and edgy. Granted, I love Passion Pit, but none of their other work ever got this weird again. Mostly it’s hooky uptempo dreampop, and great at it. But it doesn’t balance on the line of grating and compelling the way this early experiment does. I’m sure that Michael Angelakos will continue to do interesting and fun things in his career and whatnot. Maybe it’ll be weird and psychedelic, but it’ll probably be more on the pop spectrum.
This is a instrumental, and yes, it will probably guide you right to sleep. Psychedelic music very often does that. As usual with pop album instrumentals, it’s probably better in context of the whole damn album. Especially since Flaming Lips always have a lot of thought and meaning behind the sequencing of their records. I almost feel bad for giving you something that isn’t supposed to stand alone. At best, think of it as a fragment of a dream.
Well, here’s song after my own heart. Don’t wake me from my dreams of a world where everything is exactly how it seems. Don’t wake me from my optimism and visions of a world that rewards goodness. Mostly just don’t wake me. If you’re like me – a realist – you’ve woken long ago from most of your delusions about the world. We’re all on a trajectory towards the same inevitable disaster. The only delusion I still hold on to, which you can pry from my lifeless fingers, is the belief that art is the only escape and the only thing in this world that transcends the day to day smog of living. This is why I think things like reading and listening to music are productive hobbies. Heck, for some people those are straight-up career options, but let’s not get carried away. We’re talking a lot, right now, as a culture, about the danger of putting people on pedestals and keeping them there against all odds, merely because they produce enjoyable sounds and visions. And that’s a great and important conversation, which we can’t shy away from no matter how much we might like to. In the end, it’s your call, as a consumer, to draw the line on how much value you place on any individual and their art. For some people, it’s very little. Some people don’t care much for art or music or creative endeavors in general. Those people don’t have souls, but they’re still entitled to their opinions. I still say, that anything that allows the mind to escape the real and lets some degree of wonder and beauty seep in, deserves all of the accolades and pedestals.