Bush of Goats

Life's too short for empty slog. ans.

day 11 – a song from your favorite band

Metronomy – The Look

Obviously, having ‘a favourite band’ is massively dumb, but right now Metronomy are my best ones. (Them and JLS).

Eight or nine years ago, I picked up an mp3 from a music blog (can’t remember which one, and it’s probably not there anymore anyway). It was during the initial concepting phase for a bit R&D project for the BBC ID&E project (don’t bother looking for it, it’s probably not there anymore either). I started to obssess about the way the song was layered and how game-like it was. An odd refrain is clumsily played on an accordion (or squeeze box or more likely, pro-tools plug-in) then reiterated on a guitar as chords and finally stitched together with a whomping drum-loop to create an off-kilter finale. It spoke of practice, and trying again and finally, success and I began to write a game-world where this idea of practice and play were intertwined: where no matter how unlikely (in fact the more unlikely the better) you started from, youwould always make your way to a play experience. The song was ‘Black Eye, Burnt Thumb’ by Metronomy, from ‘their’ (I say ‘their’ because at that point it was only really a ‘him’) first ep/mini album ‘Pip Paine pay back the £5000 you owe’ (which I can’t help but call, ‘Pip Pan, pay back the 5 grand’). That track almost made it as the one, but in the end, this won out.

Metronomy’s most recent, Mercury nominated album ‘The English Riviera’ is a beautiful, careful, outwardly delicate, inwardly, stoic record about places, growing up and going back.

‘The English Riviera’, as envisaged by the devon tourism and  marketing board, comprised Torquay, Brixham, Paignton and Torbay and was mocked and ridiculed at the time (if you lived in Devon, you’ll remember how everyone who came on holiday did so with a ready made quip about it, ‘hardly being the French one’.) And it stands now as a vast elephant of hubris and English failure.

But was it a failure? Should it be? Should we automatically dismiss the past, when we tried hard to be something we maybe weren’t quite? Looking back with cynicism and dismissing those periods when we might not have been quite as cool or looked quite as good as we thought we did is the default reaction. (It’s called post-modern, yeah?) But Metronomy have struck gold by doing exactly that: sharing the teenage diary; grasping that uneasy embarrassment and looking again, refusing to be ashamed and therein getting practice to make perfect. This is an album that will stand next to your teenage self,  put its arm round their shoulder and say, ‘hey awkward teenage kid with a walkman on a bench in the rain, don’t let them get you down. Don’t give up. Your hair looks terrible right now, but you are worth it. Those bigger boys, the one’s who sneered, ‘Did you read it in a big book? Maybe it was them who were scared; maybe that’s why they’re giving you the look. You’ll escape, you’ll find the gold elsewhere, But for now, let’s enjoy sitting on this bench in the rain, eh?’.’This town, this town… it’s the oldest friend of mine.’ Metronomy are post-post-modern: they mean it.

Metronomy – The Look

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Filed under: 30 days of music

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