When you listen to music, you don’t just judge it from afar – you dance and sing along; you embody it. Beyoncé’s songs give you a voice in which to express a superhuman self-confidence without shame or self-chastisement.
I immediately felt at home with Richard Dawson, even though he’s far from easy listening. Where a lyric holds violence, Dawson will wail and scream it, stretching his vocal chords to their limit. “I am nothing – you are nothing – nothing important” he blasts at 4 minutes through ‘Nothing Important’, and then again at 6 minutes, breaking down into a yell I can’t even imagine him replicating live. The same thing that draws me to the chaos of noise rock guitar draws me to his voice, expressing on some level beyond semantics what it means to suffer.
When the chorus of ‘Get It While You Can’ breaks in, it’s triumphant: “Who cares, baby? Cause we may not be here tomorrow!” Janis advocates hedonism of the thought-through variety – not just Rihanna “na na na come on” party spirit (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but hedonism that prizes romance and passion over all material concerns. The song acts like alcohol or a line of coke – “fuck it,” I thought, “I’m gonna get it while I can”.
On ‘Gemini Feed’, Banks’ vocal is followed closely by a deep distorted version of itself; nauseated synths oscillate in and out of the track, underpinning the angsty love lyrics perfectly. And yet there is no sacrifice of danceability or catchiness. It’s beautifully crafted. And so I clicked through to The Altar, on which ‘Gemini Feed’ leads so easily into ‘Fuck With Myself’ – my next instant favourite.
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.