Jan 11, 2011

My Favorite. The Happiest Days of Our Lives.

The ghosts of dead teenagers sing to me while I am dancing.

Speaking of nostalgia, I was a total classic rock snob in high school. If the band hadn’t existed prior to 1970, I wasn’t interested. There were occasional cracks—an REM tape inherited from a friend, an abiding love for The Cars (who I still think were highly underrated, despite being popular)—but for the most part, I listened to The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Simon & Garfunkel, and Buddy Holly. I considered dance music the bane of my existence. Groove Is In the Heart was wildly popular during my senior year, and I wanted to stab it in its shiny, happy face. As a teenager with insufferable hippie pretensions, there was nothing I hated more than mindless happiness. I reveled in miserabilism and wanted my music to do the same. If it wasn’t whiny, depressive navel-gazing then it wasn’t about anything, maannnn. So fuck you guys coping through communal ritual and physical ecstasy, because I’m going to my room where I am a rock, I am an island. (I’m reminded of Robyn Hitchcock’s line that “It’s the privilege of youth and beauty to hate themselves”).

Thankfully, Fuchsia introduced me to all sorts of 80’s alternative, goth, and college rock, and eventually the power of a good beat was more than I could resist. It was a revelation—I could dance and be depressed! Now, of course, all the best dance music carries sadness in its heart, even at its most escapist. My Favorite understood this dichotomy perfectly and crafted an elegiac love letter to those intense days when it felt like everything in the world could break your heart, but you still really wanted to dance and get laid. So now I’m nostalgic for a band creating meta nostalgia for a scene that I had no interest in when I was actually living through it.

Michael Grace lives in a scintillating twilight world of gray New Order melodies and Andrea Vaughn has the sort of cool, clear, schoolgirl voice you used to find on Sarah Records releases. They understood the comfort of being sad, but they also found the humor in it. Their lyrics are positively littered with throwaway couplets of bitter wit: Loneliness is pornography to them but to us it is an art. They won’t read your biography , these men, they will only break your heartYour darkness is brighter than all the lights in the disco tonightThe streets were crawling with vampires, because after your shelf life expires you’re not a kid, you’re a monsterI spent five years in the infirmary but he never sent me letters. He only sent me dirty polaroidsI wear her dreams like a badge, pinned upon the wrong uniform...

The standout is the devastating Homeless Club Kids (especially the Future Bible Heroes remix on the second disc). Over a beautifully melancholy melody, Andrea eulogizes the lost kids trying to escape the daytime world through a new type of family on the dancefloor. The kids see themselves as “indivisible”, but Vaughn can see their eventual doom (whether through actual death or the eventual death of all youthful dreams). Like a less jaded version of Pulp’s Sorted for E’s and Wizz, Homeless Club Kids can’t help but wonder: Are you a shimmering, transcendent beast moving as one organism, or just a bunch of awkward kids in a warehouse basement? Well, both probably, just as Vaughn both mourns their loss while wishing she were one of them. As the song fades out, she’s walking home with their voices still in her ears, “and they’ll be sad and young forever, and I cry until I throw up.”

CD 1
CD 2 (remixes)

1 Blurt:

Francisco Paillan said...

error :(