Listening to new CDs is like eating a foreign meal; foreign in that you have never eaten it before. You have to chew on it, sometimes more forcefully than other times. You have to let your saliva break it down for the body’s easy processing. Then there is the digestion of the material; sometimes with ease, other times with horrific pain. Once you’ve digested the new experience the piece must diffuse into your veins, and swim through you blood until the final destination is reached. Sometimes it is a lengthy, disgusting process and other times it is a pleasant and amorous process. The Libertines are the most exciting of cultures and their food (music) does not disappoint.
Their name, The Libertines, boasts of freedom from convention. Their music resolves this, deeming them romantics, idealists and hedonists unaffected by the constantly grasping structures of overarching greed, of standards, of rigidity. I know there has been much press and concern over the bands extracurricular activities but this one is about the notes, the songs, and the lyrics. For some reason, bad boy antics don’t appeal to me … instead I end up feeling sad for their suffering. Still, I am a great fan of Richard Hell, Johnny Thunders and the like … for the songs. I have been anticipating, salivating over my acquisition of this album. My taste buds were far from disappointed. They were dancing, they were teasing my veins, they were wishing for more from the moment I had my first bite, “Can’t Stand Me Now.” With a beat to jump around to in your head, your mouth and on the ground, it’s an excellent start.
“Don’t Be Shy” struck a personal chord, one which I will not share because well, it’s none of your fucking business. “The Man Who Would be King” makes me envious. What I would not give, save my sleep and energy, to be able to honestly sing the savory words, “I lived my dream today / and I have lived it yesterday / and I’ll have lived it tomorrow … I lived my dreams today / I lived it yesterday / and I’ll be living yours tomorrow” (so arrogant but so inspiring).
The ingredients and nutritional values read like a familiar dish: lots of dirty guitar parts; a so cool, energetic, cocky, wouldn’t have it ANY other way voice (more of an instrument than a voice); melding and accommodating drum lines with the right speed; a bass that doesn’t distract; and masterful lyrics and songwriting to boot. “They sold the rights to all the wrongs,” “I no longer hear the music when the lights go out / Love goes cold in the shades of doubt.” The lyrics are great from the anticipated first bite with “An ending fitting for the start / you twist and tore our love apart / your light fingers threw the dark / that shattered the lamp and into darkness cast us…” The visual image of light fingers throwing out dark is vivid, intriguing, confusing, and extraordinary.
While not exactly a throwback from the days of The Clash, The Libertines are well on their way to making this dish a masterpiece, known and tried by all. They will then boast of the speed by which their music can be taken into the veins and how mightily and euphorically they swirl through, forcing their notes through red and white blood cells, overpowering them all. Even if their frantic and tumultuous lives and relationships are what contributed to their awesome music, my awesome meal, I wish them the best with the band, with cooking, with rehab.
(Rough Trade Records)
Hatchie – Keepsake
Keepsake, the debut album by Brisbane dream pop artist Hatchie is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars
Brisbane indie-pop artist Hatchie (known to her friends and family as Harriette Pilbeam) is in the envious position of being a pop artist unspoiled by the many trappings of what it is to be a modern pop artist. Unlike some of her contemporaries who craft music by committee or with Sheeran-like self-importance, Hatchie is as of now, unsullied by the pressures of the cookie-cutter pop machine. Hatchie’s debut full length is a showcase for a talent who is supremely confident and composed in her abilities, and Keepsake is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars. The album is also a wonderful throwback to pop’s dreamy 60s influences that shuffle in and out of this delirium while working alongside distinctly more current musical touches.
There is the lush dream pop sounds of “Without a Blush”, taking cues from the best of what Stars and Goldfrapp conjure but heaping a tonne of Pilbeam’s charisma on it. Like her vocals, “Without a Blush” has this elegance that has the ability to elevate songs from being beautiful to grand. It is the kind of vocal elegance that really shines through on songs like the skittering, beat-driven “Obsessed” and the alternative, guitar-fuelled (yay!) “When I Get Out”. Indie/electronic closer “Keep” is a wonderful end to proceedings.
However, the great strength of Keepsake is not just its composure in how all the songs have been put together. It is also this genuine, natural-sounding quality that permeates the album- nothing overly written, overly produced or put together by research groups or music analysts. It just sounds like talent. We can argue that much of pop music is constructed to appease the moment- designed to grab as much attention as possible in an A.D.D. world. And sure, that can be said about almost any kind of music, but the resulting aural tone of Keepsake is anything but transient or transparent.
The best way to combat tepid chart-topping music is to write better pop songs. Songs like “Her Own Heart” and the disco-toned “Stay” are examples of pop music that come across as timeless. We are moved by the songs found on Keepsake when we listen to them today. And I suspect that in 10 years time, or in 20, we will most likely feel the same. It is rare to find the sort of ageless beauty you find on Keepsake.