Category Archives: Wrongs

Wrongs #5 – The Enemy and The Public

A guaranteed route to second album success is to significantly alter your sound. Or, more accurately, a guaranteed route to second album success is to make people believe you’ve significantly altered your sound. Coventry rock trio The Enemy are about to release their second album after their debut, We’ll Live And Die In These Towns established them as lad-rock for the noughties, but with a political savvy that belied their youth. In truth, this political savvy extended to nothing more than saying “suburbs, right, they’re crap. And if you live in one, you’ll be an estate agent. Or in The Enemy.” These two fates are, it could be argued, equally useless.

The sound of the band’s debut was sickly brazen in its continual reference of the mod scene, utterly irrelevant in any pseudo-intellectual posturing it offered and lapped up by the nation’s beer-swillers. A magnificent success. The return of the band sees them advancing, like a hare to the present, from The Clash to The Stone Roses, from the 60s to the 80s. No Time For Tears, the first glimpse of their Music For The People LP is, if it considered symptomatic of the record as a whole, an overblown exercise in making one’s diminishing returns sound like an evolutionary step.

Ludicrously bombastic, particularly with singer Tom Clarke’s gnarled yelping, it sounds like Kasabian had they been born a decade earlier. This might be cheering to some, but for those who privilege invention over inelegance, this is reflective of a tortuous four minutes. “We gotta get out the city” screams the bluesy chorus (presumably intending to say “out of”, or at the very least “outta” rather than implying that you could fit a city in your pocket, perhaps, and then present it at will), replete with identikit baggy octave-spaced vocals over shockingly uninspired two-chord guitar proclamations. Elsewhere, we’re told that, as if we didn’t know and as if we couldn’t all see it ourselves, that Britain’s full of screwed-up chip paper. Lyrical barbs that were invented for the last generation. There’s nothing to distinguish or recommend.

The worst part of this scenario is that, despite how much the righteous indie press will protest, it will work on the great and proudly unwashed. Chris Moyles played it the other day and said it sounded ‘massive’ or something equally dense, and it will no-doubt resonate amongst the pre-existing fanbase that The Enemy have managed to collect and patronise. Whether it will garner them any new adulation from morons remains to be seen, but the required beef-up of their sound is a tried and tested winner.

Should you be in need of having your intelligence insulted, assaulted, thrown down some steps and left to decompose amongst the ketchup and gherkins that mingle almost poetically with the blood of stabbed kids in a shocking but potent metaphor for modern British society, go here. Or here.

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Wrongs #4 – Emotion and Oasis

Yesterday, at 5pm, Oasis unveiled the video to their new single Falling Down. The video itself shows nothing immediately troublesome as far as this loose series of entries goes, though it does exhibit a worryingly worn anti-Royalist focus on values that would’ve looked old hat a decade ago. The nothingness of the song itself is a far greater crime, but one that will undoubtedly be greeted in some quarters with praise nowhere near fain enough.

 

In a similar vein to The Verve’s comeback song of last year, Love Is Noise, Falling Down sounds at first like something of a departure to their stock fare. Softer in its delivery to much of Oasis’ more heavy-handed offerings of late, the main focus initially is on the (relatively speaking) tricky rhythm and Noel Gallagher’s light falsetto. The lyrics are remarkably poetic in comparison to the remainder of Dig Out Your Soul (a steaming reminder that the music of the common people refuses to grow old productively or with invention), slyly referencing Alexander Pope and creating an ambience of faint doom with existential wonderings quite easily.

This is all positive. Strange, for a series entitled as this one is. But the positives of this song are so exploded, enhanced, unassailably and irrevocably to be leapt upon by the popular press that the band’s ‘genius’ is surely to be trumpeted from the rooftops as if it was 1994. The people haven’t heard Oasis in their emotional mode for a few years now, and this soft-yet-intense non-classic will probably see fans come flooding back to them, forgetting that they are one of the least ‘cool’ bands on the planet according to much of the press.

Emotional resonance is achieved by simple affectations and the sheer fact that Oasis haven’t made anyone cry since the sickly Stand By Me. Their adherence to hard rockin’ (Lyla, The Shock Of The Lightning) and whimsy (The Importance Of Being Idle) since their relatively un-dramatic comeback in 2005 means that this step into morose territory could well see them become press darlings once again, at the tender age of about twenty-odd. Frightening. Were it by a newer, cheaper band, Falling Down would serve perfectly as the soundtrack to trails for a forthcoming Channel Four documentary about competitive fatness. Though it’s wrong for writing to refer to itself like this, praise don’t come much fainter than that.

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Wrongs #3 – Frank Turner

Some time ago, upon the release of his second solo album, I wrote a reasonably indignant and probably quite insulting review of Frank Turner. The album in question, Love, Ire And Song was, suffice to say, not imbued with the traits I’d normally consider worthy and attractive in musical expression; everything was shot through with a terrifying sense of self-satisfaction, an implied superiority that this troubadour had over the rest of us ‘tards. A great example (included in the review, fans of recycling) is in the song Photosynthesis, wherein the end of the song is met with whoops of appreciation and thunderous clapping from studio employees. I seriously thought that this kind of self-satisfaction had died years ago, but apparently it’s fine to proclaim in the most cowardly way possible that you actually think you’re the best thing since your own penis.
 
You might be becoming reasonably familiar with Frank Turner through his recent single Reasons Not To Be An Idiot. Even the title should worry you. It’s a strange grasp at impossible extremity through blunt “I don’t need to swear” haughtiness. Just grow a pair and call someone a cunt already. The lyrics, though, coupled with the predictable, brain-owning numbness of the music itself, are that very same bluntness with not a single corner of originality. Hypocritical it may be to criticise one example of unoriginality with a terrible cliché, but the phrase “6th form poetry” could have been invented just so it could be hung on Reasons Not To Be An Idiot.
 
Useless “and”s, “I guess”s, “so”s and “justs”, so many useless phrase openers that suggest coming in halfway through a sentence are ungainly and hackneyed, and display no craft in language whatever. The vague sentiments of disillusionment are both personal and stupefying in their generality, they tell us too little about the individual and nothing about ourselves. Who is this Amy? We want to know more about her problems! Was she going out with you? Why are you so intent on improving these peoples’ lives? They probably know they spend too much time indoors!
 
It could be argued that the most successful songs that address their audience like this do it in away that force us to see ourselves in the characters they portray, or at least see recognisable traits of others in them. Gravitas goes a long way, and Turner doesn’t yet have the stature or the empathy to include us more in his narrative, so the song comes off more as an ill-judged and slightly too aggressive move.
 
Not a massive wrong, but a wrong nonetheless. Do you want to know more about Frank Turner? Then go here.

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Wrongs #2 – John Lydon

This time, it’s an obvious one. Obvious because there rarely has been such an apparent about-face in ideologies spread so widely, albeit in hilarious fashion. So we all know about that. Forget that. Here’s the offending article:

The problem with this insane concept for an advert is that it works. Annoying though that may be, it has probably been conceived with a nod to the fact this will outrage anyone who has a percentage of ‘punk’ in their bloodstream, and therefore become part of the nation’s water-cooler chat a la that Joss Stone advert where she spills bits of Flake on her tits (sorry, that was coarse). So Country Life Butter’s stock goes up a little, and John Lydon can go back to the business of annoying people, something he would no doubt be extremely glad of.

What people might not realise is that the dopey racist has always been extremely dopey. The only difference is that when it was new, unfocused and youthful, it started a movement. Nowadays, his dopeyness can do him no good. In the ad, all the key tenets of what might be considered his ‘style’ are included. Unwillingness to valorise British institutions, ridiculous facial expressions and a lugubrious tone of voice that is supposed to make him sound like some sort of learned working class hero, but in fact makes him sound like the Skeksis from The Dark Crystal.

If you want proof that Lydon has always been a cretinous little wart, observe below:

His energy and lack of respect defines him, respectably and honourably so, but it doesn’t change the fact that he has always assumed himself to be correct in every issue, despite his unfailing knack of having no answers for anything asked of him. It’s an infuriating quality that has effectively killed his career since the demise of PiL.

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Wrongs #1: Connie Talbot – Three Little Birds

In the first entry of a new category for PM (JESUS CHRIST etc.), there’s room for a truly boggling amount of inappropriateness. The seven-year-old (although probably now at least fourteen and in possession of a rapidly increasing chemical habit of some sort) runner-up of the Britain’s Got Talent mediocrity pageant Connie Talbot has recorded a slightly sick version of Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. Admittedly, this is not new news, but it is still slightly sick. Almost racist, actually. Enjoy, then digest below…

 

Obviously not all blame can be levelled at Talbot herself, she’s no idea of what’s going on apart from she’s been told to run and skip everywhere convincing her new friend that, truly, every little thing is going to be alright. But was it really necessary for her to have dreadlocks? As if in some way this aligns her with Jamaican culture? The whole video is peppered with these alignments (a horrific accent and cringeworthy head-bobs among them), reaching its zenith when we see a little boy in the final stage scene who is clearly there because he looks a bit like Bob Marley. They’ve even given him a little multicolour hat. Ahhh.

What’s equally bad is the surreal familial strife plot that dominates the first verse of the song. Talbot appears, in a strange way, to be mocking the other child with her incessant happiness – the juxtapositions between her easy-going and the other child’s hard-going is too much. What will Talbot do? Help her ring Childline? Supervise the visiting hours every other Sunday? To assume that Talbot can deal with these issues is another symptom of having management that continually tries to sell to the wrong audience. Why market her as anything other than entertainment for other children? Once the novelty of being a child singer has worn thin, adults don’t need cultural references to Bob Marley and social work from a seven-year-old.

In a wider context, though, it’s Talbot’s voice that is the most exploited aspect of the product. It’s undeniable that her voice is of a good quality for her age, she manages to stay in tune during live performances and has a knack for imitation. But there are hardly any songs in the popular canon that could ever be anywhere near suitable for her to sing, short of resorting to Grandma We Love You. It’s an equivalent of the scene in the paedophilia edition of Brasseye where the voice of a child is dubbed over a prostitute’s dialogue – unnerving.

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