10/02/2003: "new pop"
I'm starting to become eager for the post-punk/electro revival of the past two years or so to head into a full-on New Pop revival. That's right -- big hair, ludicrous music videos with cheetahs in them, poorly applied lipstick, over-the-top coked-out production: I'm growing sick of too-stiff beats, exxtreme artiness, aggressive minimalism! Fuck minimalism! Sometimes minimalism is cool -- I dig lots of that stuff, but it seems to work best when you've got ideas coming out of your ears and know how to channel them into something concentrated and fantastic, not when you're using an uber-cool minimalist aesthetic to hide the fact that you don't have very many ideas to begin with.
The records I've enjoyed most recently have been the ones which realize pop music is, well, inherently absurd: the new Basement Jaxx which is like a lurid oversaturated day-glo magic carpet ride thru some hidden groove-galaxy, Junior Senior's Danish disco-velveeta with extra cheese, vintage 70s disco-yes-disco, Beyonce. I only dig that micro-house stuff when it's catchy as hell and crammed to the gills with textures, stuff by dudes like Superpitcher and Justus Koehncke instead of stuff that sounds like it was designed to complement the spartan blond wood decor of the expensive-as-fuck sushi place down the street, or to soundtrack a highbrow gallery opening of neo-abstract expressionists.
I picked up a crate of records a couple of weekends ago that I'd been keeping in storage in Boston and there are some really funny things in that huge pile -- the 'Look of Love' 12" on Neutron with four different versions of the song, yes four! The song wasn't even that good to begin with! But what's really awesome is Martin Fry's hilarious 'Dear Reader' on the back: 'Do you remember 'Poison Arrow' or even 'Tears Are Not Enough'? Well I hope you agree with me that this is the best ABC recording so far. It's time to put down that bow and arrow and dry those tears and enjoy the one thing, yes the one thing that turns this grey sky to blue.' Ha ha! 'Incidentally it comes from the first ABC Long Player 'The Lexicon of Love' which we are making right now. It's my ambition to make a record you can cherish and to be Number One in your personal chart maybe 'The Lexicon of Love' will be such a record.' Aw ABC cares how I feel! I'm writing to the address in Sheffield on the back to join the ABC fan club (using my alter-ego 'Godzilla Jones' of course) -- yeah I know it was 1982 and there's no ABC fan club anymore, but there should be! I entered the Devo fan club as well (as per the address on the back of 'Freedom of Choice'.) Beautiful mutants! Something great I've been listening a lot to from that general time period is the Human League's 'Dignity of Labour pts 1-4' -- this is early sans-vocals Human League (of the general variety documented on that pretty awful 'Golden Hour of the Future' thing that I shelled out $15 for a year or two ago--hey at least it had pretty liner notes) but there's nothing stiffly electro about this - 'Dignity' is poppy and inventive without sounding dated, and it actually sounds pretty damn futuristic (still!)