Saturday, February 24, 2007

the fall and the butterflies of love.

first, given recent tabloid melo-froth about feral kids, high-falutin lawlessness and the law-abiding citizens of this city accordingly living in great fear, i should just point out that our move across the river has nil to do with south london allegedly having become some kind of teenage gangland killing ground, coverage which in turn has nil to do with reality.

now to ear food. you know how the best rap tunes are those where you get a single loop, some scratching, maybe a siren, and some bloke randomly wittering over the top of it, and then the formula just gets repeated all the way through ? simple - no choruses, no lock-stock and barrel samples, no barren soulless, timidly-spat bars designed less to delight your ears than to soundtrack a superlame video (in the same way as the more impressive tunes on channel u always somehow sound better without the visuals...)

anyway, similarly, the best rock songs are those where you crank up the bass, let a scratchy guitar strike up and then just repeat the same riff ad infinitum, preferably with a mad middle-aged bloke shouting over the top. again, no choruses, no unnecessary 'melodies', no jaunty trying-to-be-clever sub-britpop nonsense. and there are a quartet of such great songs on the mighty fall's new "post-tlc reformation!" set. indeed, the album opens with a straight hat-trick: "over! over!", "reformation!" and "fall sound" all drip with that brash, snarling confidence, borne of decades of dominance, which has hallmarked the fall of late - they showcase the same almost-honed machine which thrilled at the sweatfests at 93 feet east last summer, with all the rediscovered verve and bite that followed the crit-acclaimed tableaus "country on the click" and "fall heads roll". the rollicking, glowing, gigglingly enjoyable "fall sound", in particular, a(nother) rant at those who would aspire to the crown, is a marvel: even as we wait for the english spring, we find it hard to imagine there will be many better songs this year (though check out our next post for a not un-fallish contender). the fourth killer song, meanwhile, tucked away towards the record's denouement, is live devastator "systematic abuse", a vodka-slam cocktail of the three R's (you know, the ones that president carter loves), "bremen nacht" and "stepping out", which lurches at times into pure 1977. at eight minutes 38, 'tis at least two minutes too short.

so far, so truly spectacular. the rest of the record can largely be taken or left, however, and in our new zero-tolerance approach to albums, reflecting a policy intention to listen to less music by sheer volume and more by repeat selection, we feel that we must leave rather than take such aural intrigues as the ten minute ambient feedback of "das boat", the tiring, not ungrating "the wright stuff", the obligatory yet musically subdued time-travel narrative of "coach and horses" or even the annual cover version ("white line fever"), which sees mark e.'s voice sounding strangely displaced and then segues into the cheeringly barking, but somehow mildly insubstantial "insult song". for mellow consistency, we must turn elsewhere...

the butterflies of love seem so aptly named to us, in that their songs tend to flutter, in shades of pale and rare colour, so winningly around yr head - the core is the greenes' brokenhearted heard-it-all drawl, with guitars enmeshed in a blissful, hazy, daub of reverb and dissolve, all occasionally overlaid by shimmering keyboards: as ethereal as melodic pop/rock can really be. and so, voila, we have the second skelton-strong album on fortuna pop! this young year. if el presidente had the financial muscle of rca, it would have so suited this suite of songs - named "famous problems", it says on the tin - to have done a wedding present and released them as a single per month: pretty much everything here, as with "orbit around you", one of our favourite records of 2006, deserves really to be immortalised on one side of 7" rather than the modern mere clatter of digital. not unlike the airport female's "slow light", "...problems" is optimum-length too (all other record labels please take note), none of its skittering delights outstaying much more than two or three minutes: each, in true "just a minute" style, eschew the deviation, hesitation or repetition which work so well for m.e.s., but torpedo many a lesser combo.

by the same token, there is no single tune on here quite as magnetically compelling as "fall sound" or "systematic abuse", but then of course that would be impossible. more pertinent is the realisation that we are going to have to properly revisit everything the butterflies have ever done, much as we ended up having to seek out the entire lucksmiths back catalogue once we were belatedly exposed to them a few years back, and this is likely to involve no little effort. still, it's a labour we're well up for.

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