I tend to only write about albums I really love, because, quite frankly, I feel it is worth my time to do so. When I get to a time in my life where I have a spare hot second in the day to write reviews upon reviews upon reviews, only then will I critique things that don’t quench my musical thirst at first – but only then. Anyway, I’ve loved Bat for Lashes’ Natasha Khan since I was a bat-wing-jumper-wearing, bright-red-hair-donning, teenage witch, so I was already excited about this album from its point of announcement.
It was therefore paramount that I caught her set at Glastonbury last weekend. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much, which is strange because she played at 4pm on Sunday and I’m quite sure I’d only had around five ciders by then. Having five ciders on any other Sunday would make one very drunk, but somehow by Glastonbury’s standards, it seems almost crude to admit not remembering a set after five ciders. All I clearly remember from her set is the dress she wore, which made her look like a dead movie star, and the Virgin Mary iconography on display during ‘Sunday Love’, because: Catholic guilt.
I remember crying during ‘Laura’, a well-known, mass-heartstring-pulling single off her last record, The Haunted Man, because the last time I heard her perform that same song was at Latitude Festival in 2013, where she was playing it live for the first time. In attendance was my friend Rosie, and tears were shed as NK sang it – there are few songs quite so pure-sounding as Laura. It really got to me at Glastonbury because I’d had five ciders that day, it was raining, and the song has been a safety blanket over the past few years, which have been turbulent at times, and eventful at best. Anyway, there I was sobbing, wimpering at this song, when this woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was alright.
“Yes!”, I said. “It’s just this music. I am in love with this music. I am crying!”
“Yes”, she replied, looking kinda pissed off. “I know. They’re my favourite band too” – as if to say, “Can you please stop drunkenly mewling in front of me, I like this band better than you”, which I can only contest with, being so moved by this set to the point of howling on my knees in the mud, while my friend bopped along to ELO 400 metres away. Anyway, it’s fair to say that the generalconsensus of reviews for this record is that it is an excellent one, perhaps one of the best of the year, so my fangirl-influenced adjectives aren’t unjustifiably hyperbolic.
Read my review of it by clicking the word here: Here.
(Caitlin Moran said something once about if you want to be a writer, you must learn how to be a writer on a treadmill, lest you will die from eating biscuits. I feel the same applies to a gap year.)
Hi hello hi! I haven’t written for around 2 months, but I’m back today for a specific reason- we have had the new Belle & Sebastian album unleashed to us, and I couldn’t help but take a listen, in the same way that I can’t help but eat another biscuit. It’s called Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, which we so do, and it’s released on Matador next week. I feel guilty, and ashamed as J pre-ordered the LP for me for Christmas, but I still couldn’t help but take a listen. In a way that a New Year often promises a feeling of fresh starts and beginnings, it seldom does compared to the excitement behind a new album, especially when it’s their ninth studio album, and the previous 8 have been highly regarded as ‘my jam.’
I saw them play in Paris, Halloween 2014, where they played some of the new material- much to the approval of myself and Ella, and these 2 or 3 European guys who we befriended for the night, quietly discussing beforehand which was our favourite B-side as we sat on the ground in our cardigans so we were near the front (we weren’t in cardigans but let’s just create the twee dream.)
The album opens with Nobody’s Empire, and although not initially loving it, I now really really rate it, especially as an opening track. I think I wasn’t listening to it at all at first, I was just playing it as background music, tossing my hair back like ‘Zzuuh, nothing will ever beat The Model, or whatever.’ But then I played it, thought about it, listening to the lyrics along with the lovely Marx-and-Engels-y piano, and decided I was into it, really hard. Essentially, an autobiographical song about the frontman of your favourite band, is the best thing ever in a fangirl sense. The song talks about Stuart’s struggle with ME, dealing with a chronic illness, lying in bed feeling all useless,
“I was like a child, I was light as straw
When my father lifted me up there
Took me to a place where they checked my body
My soul was floating in thin air”
Very cool. A great opening choice, it reminds me of Thunder Road, the notorious opener of Born to Run by Springsteen, with it’s storytelling-y, piano-y beginning, into a big sounding, life affirming sound as the song builds and builds. Also he sings, “If I had a camera I’d snap you now, cause there’s beauty in every stumble”, which makes me swoon- BECAUSE I AM ALWAYS STUMBLING, METAPHORICALLY AND PHYSICALLY.
Track 2 is called Allie, supposedly the female perspective in which Stuart writes from for this album. I can’t possibly comment on this track as it opens with Stevie, ‘ba-da-da’ing, which is too much for a fangirl. You’re just like, OMG! It’s Stevie! And he’s ba-da-ing!
Anyway. What I can disclose about this song, what I like about it, is the same old, trusted B&S formula- which is all like, ‘Angry girl gets angry about things and we sing about it with pretty 60’s melodies and instruments.’ It just works, “You made a list of all your heroes & you thought about what they went through/ It’s much harder, much darker than anything that happened to you.” I can relate to that, I’m ashamed to admit. That frustration of being a teenager and wanting anything ANYTHING to happen to you, no matter what, it’s just something that will trigger you to move out, or write a song, or get a haircut. Kind of wanting to pursue the *ahem* struggle of something to get a story, if anything, out of it- but then in reality just sitting around in your pants eating Wotsits watching Netflix. Adolescence.
Next up, The Party Line! This is the first single released from the record, so if you haven’t heard it already, you probably already have in H&M or something. (I’m not denouncing them as sell-outs, I did actually hear this in H&M, and internally squealed, bopping my head in a nervous, twitchy sort of way for 3 minutes, probably looking like I’d shoplifted something.) I totally hated this song when I first heard it, and mourned the loss of my band- before the curse of the fangirl hit and I was like- HEY!! GUYS!! CALM IT! IT’S JUST A DIFFERENT DIRECTION!’ I thought it was too repetitive and tinny-sounding, and nothing *sigh* like Judy and the Dream of Horse *sigh*, but then I got over it, and now it’s my alarm. It dances me out of bed, every day. Favourite line goes to: “Where were you when I was king in this part of town?” I love the idea of fallen popularity, the more local the better; being ‘famous’ within the teenage population of your hometown. Just for wearing a cool leather jacket, shaving your head, etc.
The Power of Three is lovely, and Sarah is singing. The Cat With the Cream has some lovely, beautiful melodies with some sacred sounding strings. Enter Sylvia Plath is a total mess, and sounds like the Pet Shop Boys, but hey, I’ll probably love it by next week. The Everlasting Muse is a fantastic load of fun, with a Greek sounding chorus, a sound favoured by me and my friends, who happily danced to Zorba the Greek and Dominick the Donkey, on repeat for a long time on New Year’s Eve. Before I get quoted on that, it doesn’t sound remotely like Zorba the Greek, but hey, I am not equipped to write serious, proper album reviews. It just reminded me of NYE. This is a first listen, OK, guys.
Perfect Couples has the perfect (lol) Sympathy for the Devil sounding introduction, before it explodes into BASICALLY THE BEST PARTY SONG OF 2015. Maybe not a party party song, but the song to play as you set out the cheese before the party. It could so be in a musical. Oh, a Belle & Sebastian musical. They played this in Paris to a background montage of a very stylish, very choreographed scene of a living room party. It was all just très cool, bèbè.
The next song, Ever Had a Little Faith?, was so perfect for today, and is good, old fashioned B&S, with lyrics so perfect for rainy bus journeys, “Something good will happen, wait and see/ Do you spend your days second guessing fate?” & “Drop your sad pretence/ You’ll be doing fine, you will flourish like a rose in June.”
Aural proof new albums provide more hope than a new year ever could. (The last 3 tracks also exist for you to stream, along with all the above tracks I’ve spoken about, but I have a to-do list the length of my leg. Also, with my ideal album at 35 minutes, the running time of just over an hour is too much for my ears and their poor stamina)
In other news, I’m glad Christmas is over, spent 4 nights in 2 different hotels in the past 7 days, was in Dublin last week, am in London twice this week and in Cambridge at the weekend to see First Aid Kit, again. Things could be worse.
Thanks for staying with me, if you did (which if you’re reading this- you did! So like, uh, thanks!)
TAGLINE: ~A really really half-hearted unworthy post about Camera Obscura’s wonderful new release, ‘Desire Lines’~
I haven’t post for a week or whatever, because I’ve been busy trying to perfect my puttanesca sauce, learning lines for this ol’ play I’m in, and listening to Camera Obscura’s new album Desire Lines.
Since pasta is carb-y therefore not particularly stylish, Shakespeare is old therefore not so rad, I guess Camera Obscura are hip enough to write about (by hip I mean really fucking good, as in- I can’t listen to anything else until I’ve learnt at least all of the lyrics to the first side.)
OKAY: I can’t remember where I first heard Obscura, but I presume it was as a recommendation I read when scouring Belle & Sebastian fan pages for days and days when I was 15 (I pretend I’m no longer like that, but I sort of am)
With most pieces about bands, it’s nice to read what the first album the writer heard was because usually it’s kind of accessible and a good place for the ever faithful reader to begin
‘Let’s Get out of this Country’, released in 2006 is perfection, every song is wonderful, AND REALLY EASY TO PLAY ON GUITAR, but I’m tired and it’s Sunday and my brain is coping with two hangovers so just shut up and listen:
‘Razzle Dazzle Rose’
‘voir tout en rose’
But of more importance, let’s talk about Desire Lines- because I’ve overplayed it to such an extent that I can’t properly write anything of value about their former stuff.
Let’s talk about ‘New Years Resolution’
New Year’s Resoultion to write something of value
A new year’s resolution to write something would be fine
You offer a friendship I cannot reciprocate
So don’t beg me in a garden for it not to end this way
I’ve been cool with you
I’ve been cool with you
I’ve been cool with you
Which is so wonderful and perfect, ‘I’ve been cool with you’
It seems older and her vocals stronger than aforementioned ‘Lets get out of this Country’ and it has come and SUCH a relevant time in my life, (which I can’t really talk about on here being the internet and really not private etc.) All for which makes a really bad, bad, post.
Still I love you all. And I’ll keep coming back to WordPress, I promise. For now though, please go and buy it. Walk to a shop and buy it. It’s really worth your wages.