The 10th anniversary tour of Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever also marks 10 years since I fell in love with The Cribs. I was 13, sitting in my friend’s mum’s car as she drove us out of a car park in Walsall when my friend stuck the CD on, fresh from HMV. ‘Our Bovine Public’ blasted out of the car speakers, as furious and assertive as it still sounds now. Next to the rest of 2007’s bleached lad-rock, The Cribs rang out raw and unsanitised, intoxicating in their rejection of the music press’ attempts to group them in with a wave of indie already over its peak, unstarstruck by their newfound fame.
There was a time I would have called these “slow songs” and tried not to listen to them too much, fearing both that it would make me miserable and that it would fuck up the punk free-spirit image I was trying to cultivate. It’s only as I’ve got older that I’ve learned to accept the lowkey electrical storm permanently buzzing in my mind.
“I just don’t get it. I’m not hearing anything that hasn’t been done before.” So my dad tells me as I play him my latest tastes in dance music. I only put it on because I felt defensive. Every so often, he’ll declare that nothing interesting has happened in popular music since the 1980s and it infuriates me. I need to stop taking the bait.
There’s a filmic fantasy of life, played out on the projector-screen of memory, and then there’s the senseless white noise of reality waiting ahead of you as you gaze back over your shoulder. “Your life and my life, they don’t touch at all, and that’s no way to be. We’ve never seemed so far. […] It’s such a mess now anyway.”
When I think about our brief relationship now, I hear it as ‘Peroration Six’ by Floating Points: it’s tense, fraught, and ends at its climax, suddenly and unexpectedly. Without him I probably wouldn’t have listened to ‘Peroration Six’ at all: I was only open to it because of Throwing Snow, and only open to that because I was open to him. The reverberations of our three months together will continue in my Youtube Recommends for the next month or two at least, and then, perhaps, as quickly as he arrived, he’ll be lost altogether. A butterfly flaps its wings and nothing happens.
My usual cycle for falling in love with a new song takes about three weeks. The most intense attachment is usually at the very beginning, in the first few days. I play it seven or eight times a day at least, sometimes dozens, which eases off to three or four times a day in the following weeks. As it becomes familiar, I keep playing it but gradually stop paying so much attention. Eventually, I still have the fond memories but the song can no longer move me. It’s like the arc of a relationship squeezed into microtime.
The ranks of neo-soul are full of talented women of colour, a testament to the resilience and creativity of one of society’s most marginalised groups. I connect with the music most readily at the level of its unapologetic femininity: its vulnerability and quietude are refreshing, exploring feminine emotions and identities often derided as weak in ways that affirm them and reveal their nuance and worth.