There’s a track on the début album from Scottish noise urchins Bis entitled ‘Tell It To The Kids’, and I’m rather fond of it. Spiky and gleeful and celebrating the urgency of youth (whilst effectively dismissing anyone older as cultural dinosaurs), it acts as a reminder that, as far as fads and fashions are concerned, I’m well out of the musical loop.
And that’s as should be – this blog is not here to drape itself across the zeitgeist like some over-coiffed London hip chimp rushing from bar to bar in a frenzy of mainlined hot-off-the-press disco-skiffle; I prefer to drape myself across the couch, oblivious to what the kids are listening to, and secure in the knowledge that obscure radio shows and an absence of music press input will have me assimilating the year at my own pace.
This year being 1989, yeah?
I’ve no idea if the track below the words has already been plastered all over the internet like a pernicious virus. If daytime radio is playing little else. If I’m so comically late to the party that any musical integrity LGM may have once carried has been well and truly extricated – and I’m presuming that this is the case, what with the sites that collate listening stats suggesting a significant number of plays without any recommendation from me.
Below the words: ‘Left Myself Behind’ by TOY (originally released last year in limited numbers, and back in stores round about now if you prefer 12” vinyl over a legally-available free download – as you should). We were in a bar, a comrade and I, putting the world to musical rights (or debating the minutiae of Prince records) when he asked the “have you heard…?” question. And now that I have heard – on heavy repeat – I have to admit that that this is an astonishing record, with scope and ambition broad enough to be filed under ‘epic’. An issue with guitar-based records that clock in at anything over fives minutes in length is that edge can be blunted, a combination of duration and a collective reflex to certify as some kind of “indie anthem” (‘Paranoid Android’ springs immediately to mind, but there are many other examples). ‘Left Myself Behind’ doesn’t fall pray to this; the guitars swarm, the vocal sifts moodily but never via obtrusive poses, and if in scale it reminds me of Suede’s ‘Stay Together’, both texture and momentum propel this instead towards a gripping play-out, all compressed thunder and nuanced affectation.
There’s a great deal to interest the senses here; the interplay between verse and chorus, guitars that jangle and sweep and jangle again, vocalist Tom Dougall’s laconic Terry Hall inflexions, the subtle allusions to a large spectrum of damn fine records from ten, twenty, thirty years ago. Polished but not overly do, raw edges left to slice should you venture too close. But it’s that outro that cements the record’s grip upon attention, sound that surges, rising up from the songs humid innards to grab you around the ears. At nearly eight heavenly minutes it still feels over too quickly, and when that crescendo does ultimately arrive, my initial thought is well worth retaining: fuck, it feels good to be this young.
(Stop sniggering at the back).
TOY / Left Myself Behind