Wednesday, August 19, 2009
#134. 'Everything has been done'
Metric "Dead Disco"
You Forgot It in People may go down as the biggest pitchfork-aided success story of the decade. How else would a little album on a tiny label barely known outside the Toronto scene get into the hands of someone on the other side of the country in the middle of nowhere? It may have been the first real taste of the power that 'fork would be able to wield to greater and greater degrees as the decade progressed, but at least this time the album it was applied to a) needed and b) deserved the boost it was given. It also helps that it helped raise the profile of a huge number of unknown or under-known bands who fed into the main BSS lineup. A big part of the joys of the first few months I listened to YFIiP was tying the vast array of members to their own projects and keeping an eye on them periodically. Sure this resulted in some duffers coming into my sphere (does anyone remember KC Accidental all that well?) but it also opened my newly adventurous ears to the likes of Do Make Say Think (and by extension the whole of the Constellation Records roster), hHead (Jerk is a Canadain pawnshop mainstay and well worth the few dollars you might spend on it) and Feist. It was the rare case of an album offering a multifaceted gateway to a thriving scene I was too far away from to be aware of otherwise, and I do appreciate it for that.
Of course the one rotating member I was most looking forward to following was Emily Haines. Her work on "Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl" provided the single highlight of the album for me, such a pained yet forceful voice that edged between childishly grating and entrancing. At the time it was still a year til her main band Metric debuted with the overlooked neo-new wave classic Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?, but when that one made its way into my hands it was well worth the wait. Over the next 5 years they've done a lot to squander the goodwill it built up, but the energetic, effervescent debut was one of the best BSS-related releases I've come across up til now.
"Dead Disco" was the obvious highlight and an inspired choice for first (?) single even though it didn't break them the way "Combat Baby" did just a few months later. It might have been that slightly discordant, siren sounding synth blare that kicks it off, but when under that you've got some tight-as-fuck hi-hat heavy drumming that'd do Clem Burke proud and that rubbery bassline it should be easy to overlook that. Of course when Haines comes in she's miles away from her tone in "Anthems," fiery and defiant as opposed to childlike and ephemeral. It's how the song needs to be sung though, anything this jaded and bitter can't be evinced by the sort of voice Haines emploted on "Anthems" just like that couldn't work with the voice she dons here. I wouldn't say that she's a vocal chameleon or anything, but she definitely has a sense of what type of voice to use at what time, which goes a long way towards her various projects' sucesses.
As for the jaded bitterness of the lyrics...I may be grasping here but it sounds like a fairly cogent critique of the "scene" that surrounds music like this. The idea some people have that they need to do something new to stand out blowing up in their faces and robbing whatever they're doing of its soul. The scenesters who sit around mocking this failure. The refrain of 'everything has been done' followed by the most sarcastic la-la-las committed to tape might as well be the battle cry of the early 00s indie denizen, so invested in finding something new and unknown that they'd blithely overlook anything remotely similar to what's come before. Basically as an indictment of the way the indie scene went from appreciation of the music to appreciation of the obscureness it's not as visceral as, say "Losing My Edge," but at least it offers some comfort to the "failures" in its final section. Haines drops the bitterness in her voice for the last 30 seconds and assures whatever fictional artist just got dismissed by his intended audience 'I know you tried to change things.' The implied bit there is that even though it didn't change anything it still spoke to someone, probably all the comfort anyone needs.
Coming up tomorrow: How fake Weezer overtook real Weezer for 4 minutes or so.