Friday, 23 November 2012
So in the last week or so Crystal Castles have released their third album, called (III). Despite the album gaining some very positive reviews I have to say that I've been left rather disappointed with the new album though. As much as I do like Crystal Castles I guess I would be lying if I said they were one of my favourite groups. Although I do really like their first and second albums their low-points for me are so low that it makes me dock them a few places if I were to do a list of my favourite artists. With (III) though I just can't get into it at all. Very few of the songs are standing out to me at the moment I'm afraid. Many of the songs are laden with chimp-punk sounding vocals which I find really annoying and many of the songs have a very glitchy feel. Crystal Castles have always had a very chaotic 8bit sound but at least on the previous two albums melody was still prevalent. Here though for me there seems to be a distinct lack of any real melody on many of the tracks Some of the songs I feel have the potential to be enjoyable to listen to - like Plague or Telepath - but the various effects that are present in many of them just kill my enjoyment stone dead. For me, the only three tracks that I can say I really enjoy at present are Wrath of God, Sad Eyes and Child I Will Hurt You. I'm sorry to say that the rest of the tracks though either leave me with no emotion whatsoever or reaching for the skip button. The album does have a focused sound, I can't fault it for that, but really a lot of it just sounds very samey to me. Maybe Crystal Castles will be one of those groups that I will always have a kind of love/hate relationship with. I fully understand the album is meant to have a vast and bleak sort of atmosphere but for me it feels like a lot of the screamy chipmunk voices were employed to cover the fact that under the surface the album really isn't anything to write home about. I had enjoyed the lead single of the album so much and I thought that it was going to be brilliant, but sadly so far I've been left bitterly disappointed with their third offering. I guess if your into more harsher/darker electronic music you may love it, but as this listener isn't its left me with no choice to say that its one of the most disappointing albums I've heard in recent memory. If my opinions change I will of course post an update, but for the moment I can't see me enjoying this album anymore. Sorry!
Saturday, 17 November 2012
Last night I stayed up a little bit later than usual to watch The Genius of David Bowie. It was a very interesting show - perfect for someone like me who is developing an interest in David Bowie without knowing an awful lot about his work. It was mainly performances from TV shows mixed in with songs by other artists that he had worked on and the like. It taught me quite a bit of factual information too that I found quite fascinating. It was also very nice to see Pet Shop Boys feature on the show. Their performance together of Hallo Spaceboy (Pet Shop Boys single mix, obviously) from Top Of The Pops was featured. I do love that remix so it was very nice to see them featured. Both avid Bowie fans (Neil even met him in 1972 if memory serves me) I can only imagine how thrilled they were to work with him!
Friday, 16 November 2012
So lately I've been delving into a lesser known area of Pet Shop Boys work - their production work. I've been particularly listening to two albums; Dusty Springfield's Reputation and Liza Minnelli's Results. I've really surprised myself at how much I've enjoyed both and Results is fast becoming a particular favorite of mine! The pinnacle of the album for me though I think is this track - If There Was Love. This is one of the tracks that was specifically written and recorded for Results. It's very typical Pet Shop Boys in style I think, it sounds very much like their Introspective era. The arrangement is dance oriented in a way, but it is executed in a very subtle manner. Its definitely got a softer arrangement than Loosing My Mind for instance. Lyrically, the song is very bleak, one of the bleakest sets of lyrics in the entirety of Pet Shop Boys really. The lyrics are utterly paranoid in terms of tone, its as if the narrator feels the world is in nothing but a mess, to the point were they've become disillusioned with it. Indeed they ponder if love really is enough to fix these problems. They've become so disillusioned though that they do even question does love exist to begin with - after all they ask if love exists rather than state its existence as a matter of fact. The lyrics do leave a lot to the reader though - despite asking in the chorus whether or not love is indeed enough to combat the worlds problems no answer is given, so we don't know the narrators view on the subject. Also, the recital at the end of the track is of Shakespeare's famous Sonnet 94. It goes very well with the track I think. Essentially, the sonnet states that those who acquire power and then abuse their position and essentially turn into bad people are far more condemnable than those who never were particularly great or pleasant to begin with. Personally, I wonder if the song is implicitly directed at politicians who get into power and then don't deliver but I could be clutching at straws there. The inclusion of the sonnet was a spontaneous one - one day Neil was searching through various sonnets and the like to find something to read at a friends funeral (the same funeral depicted in Pet Shop Boys b-side Your Funny Uncle) whilst a playback of If There Was Love was on. He came across Sonnet 94 and voila. Personally, I think the song has a message that still holds up some relevance today. Living in the place that I do, and hearing so much horrible stuff about the political conflict here, its a song that makes me think. Northern Ireland is so much better to live in but sometimes things happen and it makes me wonder will the conflict ever completely end. Anyhow, back to the song itself. I think this is a great track, to the point were I would love to hear Pet Shop Boys own version if it exists. Considering that they did record demos for other tracks on Results, like So Sorry I Said its entirely plausible they do have a version of this lingering around in the vaults. Even if they don't, they could always revisit it and re-record it, like they did with In Private. In any case, an excellent song that's as strong as Pet Shop Boys own recordings!
Thursday, 15 November 2012
|Promo release artwork.|
Monday, 12 November 2012
Sunday, 4 November 2012
Saturday, 3 November 2012
This is the more hidden of the three Electronic tracks that feature Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys. Its the only one that has always been an album track on Electronic's self titled debut, with previous single Getting Away With It only being added on the album on re-releases and Disappointed following some time after the album release. Despite some incorrect attributions, its the only song in the Electronic catalogue that is a full collaboration with Electronic and Pet Shop Boys, as its the only Electronic track that features Chris Lowe. Pet Shop Boys receive co-writing/co-performance credits on this track. The song is definitely a more darker and atmospheric track for Electronic I think. It has a very icy bass line that definitely makes the song have a foreboding atmosphere which is a perfect back-drop for the lyrics. Lyrically, the song is about someone who is an utter hell to live with, quite literally someone who tries "the patience of a saint". However, it might be about two people that are incredibly difficult to live with as opposed to just one. Both Neil Tennant and Bernard Sumner take co-lead on the track and thus it makes Patience of A Saint a duet. Perhaps most tellingly, out of the three Electronic songs that feature Neil, its the only one were they both share co-lead. Maybe that's coincidental but maybe it isn't. It's entirely plausible that the song only features one lyrical persona, so essentially Neil and Bernard are singing different sets of lyrics but the narrator is the same. Having said that, if they are indeed voicing two separate characters then the song is almost certainly about a gay relationship. Its not very obvious which of the two it is; I mean the song doesn't have lyrics that feel conversational between two different narrators. To be honest, both Bernard and Neil have very similar lyrics in terms of tone. If indeed it is two separate characters that Bernard and Neil are portraying then you get the idea that they are just perfect for each other. I mean both lyrical persona are self confessed as being hell to live with. In that cause although they drive the patience of a saint, they make themselves saints for having to put up with each other. It becomes quite moving then in that case I think, and its also a very clever and implicit way of showing how two people are made for each other. The song has one of my favourite sets of lyrics of all time for their ambiguity in this regard. If I'm honest, this was one of the songs on the debut album that I wasn't so fussed about. I just felt that it was lacking something compared to the other tracks on the album. Now though my opinion has completely changed with regards for the track. Not only is it one of the highlights of Electronic's discography (and their high point in terms of lyrics), I'd also say it has a certain quality that I'd find in the very best of Pet Shop Boys own discography. Believe me, I rate their best work highly! An overlooked track with lyrics to think about in my opinion!