Give the crazy old girl her due. Roisin Murphy has walked the thin line between weird and saleable with astonishing skill for nigh on twenty years now, and if she’s decided that squeaky-clean floor-fillers are her thing, at this point she can be forgiven.
Okay, this is the perfect song. It’s the best song ever written, and the best take on it ever done, and you lot can’t see it because you’re such a bunch of sad-faced dullards, whining and moaning all the time about how nothing works etc. etc.; the fact of it is, none of you recognise class when you see it, which is why you’ll always be unlaid and miserable.
The new Adam & the Fish-Eyed Poets record talks itself into a corner. By definition, it couldn’t have sprung from anywhere but here – it is a concept album built around a ruinous “arranged” marriage, and is therefore, like the entrance exams, and lying to your wife about your cigarette habit, automatically very Indian – and yet, it will never meet this version of the country. The lads’ vocabulary consists of efficient two minute popcraft, reverb-heavy new-wave guitar, and drums and bass which crackle and snap all over the shop; this is an idiom that the people they paint wouldn’t know or care less about; thus, simply through choice of lexicon, the record and the world it describes will always be forced to stare at each other from a distance, in mutual incomprehension.
Singer-songwriters – as different from normal men and women – are terrifying things. When they’re not soliciting pity moaning about how life is mean to them, they’re peddling halfwit hippieisms (“The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind”, fucking hell.) They almost never have a sense of humour, and give terrible navel-gazing interviews. Worst of all, they tend to shun proper backing bands in favour of a lone acoustic guitar or piano. This just makes a bad deal worse: few things in the world are more skull-crushingly dull than a single person playing a single instrument for the entire length of an album.
Devo’s cover of Satisfaction takes the Satisfaction cake. The Rolling Stones were lying when they said they weren’t getting any, and Otis Redding simply went for an elephantine stomp (which, when you think about it, is a fair way of dealing with not getting any), but Devo truly convince you that they have never been laid, and, the way things are going, never will be. Which, after all, is the idea behind the song.
It’s fitting that Laura Nyro’s most well-known album is called Eli & the Thirteenth Confession. Everything about her suggests a woman who’s simply dying to confess, to lay the vagaries of her raging soul bare for all to see. Laura Nyro wants you to know when she’s in love and when she isn’t, and, because her emotions are such huge and deeply complicated things, her music can scare off even the most empathetic listener.
Back when I used to roam the internet picking fights with strangers over records, one of my favourite things to do was to throw flaker pop in the faces of middle-aged American men. Flaker pop is my name for a specific kind of music made in the 2000s. Flaker pop records were made by slightly obscure bands, tended to be good-humoured and cleverly crafted, often erred on the side of prettiness, and – crucially and without exception – hadn’t a hint of originality about them. Indeed, it looked as though they had been deliberately made to eschew anything new or difficult.