Tracks of the Year 2009

An atypical year. But aren’t they all?

It’s one where I was very much settled in London, as much as it’s possible to settle in a city which moves beneath your feet. I’m writing this in the same room which I wrote the previous year, with the same girlfriend, and being worryingly even more happy. As someone who’s always looked suspiciously at Satisfaction, this worries me. Which, of course, is proof that you can worry about everything. Generally speaking, I look at 2009 as the day the world turned Jamie McKelvie. Girls. Asymmetrical fringes. Synths. You know – all is Ladytron fantasies sprayed across the heavens. And, that being a part of our mutual tastes which crosses over, it suits me fine. My tracks of the year has a lot of that, but I think it’s actually a notch less NEON-POP than the previous one. There’s some stuff which is worrying sentimental – which is the sort of comment you should file with the “I’ll worry about anything” note from above.

(This is a year I worried about pointless, unavoidable things a lot. I mean, Phonogram. That five month gap between issue 1 and 2? Half an hours sleep was lost every night to tossing and turning and growling, while knowing that the only thing I could do to do anything about it is reorganise the whole form of Western capitalism. Well, the only reasonable thing. I could have robbed a bank to fund Jamie eating or something. Clearly, I should have committed)

Musically… well, it’s a year which I felt like I browsed more than usual. The forum for music wasn’t clubs or live gigs or even a HD full of ripped CDs. It was primarily Spotify, which warped my listening habits so much when I removed my spare HD when I sent my PC to be repaired, when the PC was returned, I didn’t reinstall it for some months. It was a lot of effort to get out a screwdriver and… fuck it, most of the stuff was on Spotify and the rest was probably on Youtube. It took the approaching DJing at Thought Bubble for me to actually reinstall it, when I needed to get ready for the joy of Laptop Djing in front of a crowd of peers.

(Musical highlight of the year would be that, I suspect. I gushed about the evening, but playing Pullshapes and seeing the floor was as magical a moment I could wish for.)

I even actually pay for the non-advert service, after Spotify finally found one which was so heinous which I couldn’t bear dealing with interrupting my writing-mood one hungover morning. It was the one where they had people phone in to say their wishes for Spotify (“Love it! Can you get the Beatles though?” “I think Spotify should be advert free for everyone! It’s not fair”). I’d have paid double to get rid of their bloody drooling. Oddly, I’ve ended up missing them a little. When friends complain about a new advert, I’m out of the conversation. It’s another piece of distance from the main cultural conversation. And that’s totally the other theme. More than any other point, I’ve found it easier to ignore the parts of popular culture that I’m not interested in (Well, mostly. The masses of the year that was owned by the Noisettes was unbearable). Which you may think is good for mental health, but being forced to actually engage with stuff which I don’t find interesting is a big part of my thinking – mainly because, unwanted exposure can lead to things you love more than most. Spotify makes that worse – I used the word “Browsing” earlier, and that’s how I use it. That it lacks any decent history function – only remembering the last few searches – can mean that you can listen to a band, half dig it, think about coming back… and never do. Because you didn’t really bother remembering its name. Your Last.fm profile can help, but it’s not exactly easy.

(I never remember names. The anal-music-band-name-drop thing was always my weakest card as a music critic.)

I smile that I use the past-tense there. With Plan B closing, I suspect that’s the last music criticism I’ll do for a forum outside this particular blog. And Phonogram, obviously, but that’s its own thing. It feels right in many ways. Jamie and I were approached by a music magazine this year to try and develop a regular Phonogram-esque thing for them… an opportunity we let die on the vine. The main reason was basically time – as in, we didn’t have any. But at least part of it was me thinking to do that I’d have to be tied more directly into the mass musical culture than I am right now. What I mainly do is the personal narrative – and the point of Phonogram is all about the importance of everyone’s personal narratives. To actually give a toss about what album is coming out this week… well, that’d require effort. I feel I was too fucking old for that stuff.

And oddly, I don’t mind about that at all. And when I’ve worried about the silliest of things, not worrying about that’s a real surprise.

Okay. Tracks of the year. How does this work?

I keep a googledoc across the year, lobbing stuff in as it occurs to me, forgetting to include stuff about half the time. It’s tracks of the years. That normally means singles, except the case where a band doesn’t have a single and/or there’s a specific album track that personifies my love best. That is, it normally means singles, except when it’s not. One track per band. If a band has multiple tracks which should be in here, I normally push the one I choose up a few steps (In previous years, people like The Go Team, The Long Blondes and Outkast have profited from that.

Come New Year, I take the list and try and arrange it. I start swearing, realising that a load of stuff which is on the list is actually totally shit and I was drunk at the keyboard again. Scanning around, I normally discover that there’s more stuff which I dig which I never added to the list or put on the wrong list or put in a Marvel Script and caused an editor to worry about me some more. At this time, I’m normally trying stuff I’ve missed throughout the year. A few of them find their way in, but it’s often on first rush. Some stuff I mark for further listening in the next year – and they’re usually the ones which I find a way to sneak into the following year. And occasionally I just get the year entirely wrong. But it’s my Top 40, so yah-boo sucks.

I generally try and link to a Youtube version if it’s around. However, there is a Spotify list of the whole thing available here. Well, most of them. Everyone should feel free to link to a playlist or blogpost about their tracks of the year in the comments. To start you off, here’s Ex-Bitmap Brother Ed Bartlett’s Spotify one.

EDIT: And Courtesy of Paul O’Regan, here’s 39/41 tracks in a Youtube playlist.

And this was all done in an afternoon, so excuse typos and/or factual nonsense and/or selecting completely the wrong choices…

ENOUGH INTRO! LET’S WRITE ABOUT POP MUSIC!

40) The Mountain Goats — Ezekiel 7 And The Permanent Efficacy Of Grace
The titles of the Life of the World to Come make it actually impossible for me to remember which ones I actually liked. Let’s go with this one, because – as John Walker notes – it’s the one with the video.
[Youtube]

39) Math The Band — Tour De Friends
And let’s make John Walker happy by including something which he recommended. YELP! YELP LIKE IT’S 1991/1997/2002!!!! Tiny heroic casio solos. Makes me think of zinekidz on tiny white ponies charging the cannon lines of blokerock, uncaring of shrapnel. SHRAPNEL SOUNDS LIKE AWESOME.
[Live Youtube]

38) Neko Case — This Tornado Loves You
Karen Beilharz wondered why I hadn’t listened to Neko Case’s new one this year. After listening to this luxuriantly evocative romance, I am too.
[Live Youtube]

37) Chew Lips – Rising Tide
Solo was the single which got all the attention – which doesn’t do an enormous amount for me, especially in a year when the Yeah Yeah Yeahs explored similar terrain with a little more charisma. Equally, Rising Tide isn’t off the album that’s about to come out. You can get it by joining their actual mailing list, though it’s on their MySpace page too. It’s a bit electro-Yeahs too… but it’s warm-heart-on-icy-sleeve Maps-as-electro-Yeahs, and as such, delectable. Though a little Jamie McKelvie.
[MySpace] (Not on Spotify)

36) Weezer — (If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To
This is an odd time to start liking Weezer. Especially something as sappy as this. I’ve learned to not question myself.
[Youtube]

35) Eels — That Look You Give That Guy
This is an odd time to start liking Eels. Especially something as sappy as this. I’ve learned to not question myself.
[Youtube]

34) Los Campesinos! — There Are Listed Buildings
This is an odd time to start liki… oh, it’s Los Campesinos! No, it’d be odd to stop liking you. Sounds like Gareth has got laid since the last album, which is good for him and good for everyone who doesn’t like poetry carved on their door with a Stanley Knife and all that.

(Yes, that’s from the first album. You know what I mean. Unless you don’t, in which case, just carry on. There will be plenty to be confused about later on.)
[Youtube]

33) Wild Beasts — Hooting & Howling
Opulent, intricate pop which recalls the Associates at their most elegant and wasted.

Cripes. Am I interviewing for a job at Mojo or something?
[Youtube]

32) Camera Obscura — French Navy
Opening lyric of the opening track of their new album: “Spent a week in a dusty library”. You know that Camera Obscura are afraid of everything – loud noises, listening to their music so loud their neighbour tells them to turn it down, meeting strangers, tripping up bits of pavement, etc – but the one thing they’re not afraid of is being themselves. It makes me wish I had a satchel.
[Youtube]

31) Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks
Music I listen to when I wish I was rich and American and slightly-self-satisfied. Sounds a lot like someone getting top marks for their Brian Wilson homework. Well done you.

Wait – do I even like this? No time to second guess. Onwards!
[Youtube] (Not on Spotify)

30) Jarvis Cocker — I Never Said I Was Deep
Jarvis guesting in Gonzales’ London residency was one of my gigs of the year. The whole evening left me thinking what the 00s did to our stars and where it left them. I mean that “our” in the stupid us-versus-them kind of way. As brilliant and funny and inspiring Gonzales was, I couldn’t help just feeling a bit sad hearing the Presential Suite material. Is that it, y’know? Is that all we’re going to get from you Gonzy? This stuff is amazing. DO MORE. Cocker and Gonzales are of the similar mold – which makes me all the more grateful he continues to put out as much always-human always-smart material as he does.
[Youtube]

29) Akira The Don — Steven Wells (He Was The Greatest!)
Talking about Gonzales, the following week, Akira the Don was his guest. Which is a link! I’ll go a long way in this writing malarkies. Anyway, this is the Akira the Don tribute record following the untimely death of MUSIC-JOURNALIST SWEAR-O-TITAN Steven Wells. It’s a smart-as-hell little punky buzz-storm which in a hyperbright cartoon style recalls why Swells was this towering figure in music writing. And I know it’s not fair – as Matt Sheret said when I tried this theory on him, the tribute song to him would be playing his songs – but there’s part of me that’s pleased that while Jackson and Swells passed within a few hours of one another, I haven’t seen anyone actually write a song in tribute to him. If it was up to me, the Caps-lock key would be renamed the STEVEN WELLS key.
[Download] (Not on Spotify)

28) Felix Da Housecat — We All Wanna Be Prince
Hobbes forwarded this to me half way through the year, noting: “only one idea…. but its a good idea”. I said it seemed the perfect thing to fight my hangover. Because I was hungover. Again.

Regarding the song – Felix, once again, does have a point.
[Youtube]

27) Beyonce — Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
2008! 2008! 2008! Yeah, obv. But I’ve got a couple of things I wanted to talk about.

Firstly, it only got a proper UK release in 2009, peaking in its top 10 position in January. Which was, as far as I can make out, before its actual physical release in February. I think. That it’s actually hard for me to ascertain the facts on that via googling around just strikes me as a fascinating example about pop-music late 00s style. Specifically, because it’s a mainstream version of what I was writing about in issue 4 of Phonogram. Well, what I was writing about when Seth and Silent Girl were just sniping amusingly at one another. As in, culture-lag in music consumption. Robyn’s album was released in 2005, which is when Seth and Silent would have got it, probably off a file-sharer as it wasn’t in the UK. Everyone else listened to it in 2006, when our story is set. But the actual cross-over hit only comes in 2007, when the album is actually released in the UK. But that lag is now actually the mainstream engine of pop-music, with the moneterized (i.e. the stuff they measure) portion of it (Download Sales) enough to warp the actual shape of mainstream pop (i.e. The Charts) in a way which dramatically shows how the actual industry now lags behind it (the release of the actual physical single after its commercial peak). I’m old enough to remember how strange the feeling of someone playing Funeral at an ATP after it just came out… and the whole room singing. Everyone had pirated it before the UK release. A track we shouldn’t have was an anthem. That is now just how it works.

Secondly, it’s the first time I’ve cared at all about anything Beyonce has released since (the admittedly awesome) Crazy In Love. I like her as a pop-star far – Stalin-but-Sexy-basically – than more than her output. So I’m glad for something this strange.
[Youtube]

26) Ida Maria — Oh My God
Similarly! 2007 release in foreign! Album release in 2008, with a top 20 hit! This, the follow-up single, released in 2009 and crashes… but it’s the one which ignites mine (and Walker’s, oddly) love. The singularity is a whirlpool. Anyway – Ida Maria is always the sound of a drunk twenty-something girl falling down the stairs and mumbling to herself and banging her head against the wall, at which point she’s surprised to discover the noise is actually spangly and shiny. A sing-along hands-in-the-air Nervous Breakdown. The best kind!
[Youtube]

25) Dananananaykroyd — Some Dresses
I’d write about these more, but it’d mean that I’d have to spell their name. It’s certainly one way to get your revenge against writers. You know they’re going to be mean about you. This is getting your revenge in advance. Anyway – this sounds like the best kind of Pritt-stick high.
[Youtube]

24) The Rumble Strips — Not The Only Person
Sometimes a little arrogance goes a long way.
[Youtube]

23) Come Alive (War of the Rose) – Janelle Monáe
I’ve been digging her 2007/2008 – SERIOUSLY! THIS ONE’S ALSO CONFUSING – album Metropolis: The Chase Suite for the first part of the year, but I can’t work out any kind of fake to get any of that into this chart. Instead, I dig this out of context piece of multi-historic rock-and-roll foot-stomping and can’t wait to hear what she does next. I can’t wait to hear it, because I haven’t got a fuck’s chance of working out what it’ll be in advance. Go Janelle!
[Youtube] (Not on Spotify)

22) The Maccabees — No Kind Words – Single Version
The indie blokes really have spent a lot of time sounding portentous this decade. We get it! You’re serious! Girls should totally make out with you.
[Youtube]

21) Future Of The Left — Arming Eritrea
The previous-Top-40-er – the fearsome The Hope The House Built – was the single for the album this year, so we’ll go with the opening track as a sample of the Future of the Left’s highly agreeable brutality. First album was fantastic. The second is better. In an alternate universe, the Future of The Left are so big that I we’d all have to tosser-like-ly pretend not to like them anymore, while secretly throwing ourselves around and screaming to Future of the Left’s throwing around and screaming. Perfectly clever and dumb.
[Youtube]

20) Rose Elinor Dougall — Start/Stop/Synchro
Pointed, period – though working out the exact period is a little tricky – chamber pop from the ex-Pipette. That its exact mood proves elusive is one of the reasons I keep on coming back to it. It’s a simple little thing, hinting at something much larger.
[Youtube]

19) La Roux — In For The Kill
Watching Christmas Top of the Pops and La Roux came on. I blinked. I realised that I’d never actually seen La Roux perform in the flesh. It seemed immediately wrong. It’s like having the Terminator come onto a chat show. Sure, bring Arnie on, but the Terminator is for hunting down Sarah Connors. In the same way, La Roux are a band who should only exist in their videos. They make me think of London, sealed in hairspray. They make me think of someone – and I forget who it was – say that Tilda Swinton is basically a walking special effect. They’re very pretentious, in a most literal sense. It’s all about pretense. I don’t believe a word and I love it.
[Youtube]

18) The Bronx — Knifeman
This is one I missed from last year, despite listening to it on repeat for weeks. Thankfully, it was actually only released as a single this year, which means I’ve got an excuse to put it here and type THIS IS A B-18! THIS ISN’T MUSIC! IT’S A PYRAMID SCHEME! in bold and everything. Also NOW WE’RE BORN REMINISCING! and similar. It is an amazing team-up between FUCK! and YEAH! FUCK YEAH! FUCK YEAH!
[Youtube]

17) Lady Gaga — Poker Face
Some people don’t like the bluffin’ with my muffin’ line. Some people shouldn’t be let near pop-music.
[Youtube]

16) Lily Allen — Not Fair
I think the biggest miracle in Miss Allen’s album is how little her cringe-worthy social-analysis is actually cringe-worthy. Yeah, Lily, you’re the person I immediately come to for socio-political analysis of late-period Consumerism… but I totally do. I think its directness, its brazenness in approach. It doesn’t blink (as opposed to – to choose a random example, Animal Collective’s My Girls, whose special pleading is where you start to wince). There’s none of that in Not Fair, but Lily’s inclusion so high up is at least as much for the album (one of my favourite pop ones of the year, as a single listenable-artifact) as the track. Still – its amusingly direct synthy-country analysis of male/female relationship is charming as hell as it hammers a big stake right through the heart of nice-guys everywhere. Nice-guys finish last. Alas, Lily sighs, they don’t.
[Youtube]

15) THE 2009 SHARED HAINES PLACE
Metric — Gimme Sympathy
McKelvie’s favoured Haines. Album didn’t entirely click with me, but the opening burst was as definitive a statement of Metricness as they managed.
[YouTube]
Luke Haines – 21st Century Man
My favoured Haines. His best solo album in a while, I think, and the closing piece of autobiography is as good an example as ever. You can almost see a little self-doubt in there. If you squint. Hard.
[Youtube] (Not On Spotify)

14) Little Boots — New In Town
I felt a little sorry for Little Boots. Grouped together with Florence and La Roux in all the early 2009 hype, she was always going to suffer. Florence is about the excess of humanity and self. La Roux is about its annihilation. At the middle ground, she’s going to suffer – pop rewards the extremes when coming from their quarter. She seemed a little normal, really. That’s why I liked her. There was something awkwardly bedroom about it – sonic zines. She could have been a Phonogram character (“Remedy” is virtually a Phonogram plot). As such, she’s doomed to sell nowt, relatively speaking. New In Town is my favourite new moment (Otherwise: Stuck on Repeat), for the simple reason it succeeded in its aim. It made me want to go out. Like, now.
[Youtube]

13) French Horn Rebellion — Up All Night – Edit
When writing about pop music, there’s few times I get a chance to use the word “cheeky” as a compliment. This is one of them. Just plain goofy and charming in equally measure. I’d totally date them.
[Youtube]

12) The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart — Young Adult Friction
And for when I wasn’t being dated… yay! C86! Bedroom pop! Lyricism! Libraries! Swathes of sound! Not getting out! If Lloyd Phonogram was around in 2009, he’d have a Pains Of Being Pure At Heart badge on his lapel. And another pinned directly to his heart.
[Youtube]

11) Manic Street Preachers — Peeled Apples
The last thing I wrote for Plan B was a review of the Manic’s Journal for Plague Lovers (aka Holy Bible II: The Intensely Intense Reloaded). Which, if you want to close a narrative arc of my life between 1994 and 2009, would be the perfect final scene. As an album, it’s a curio. If you’re a Manics fan, you can’t help pick through it just to see what those Richey Lyrics were like. As an album, bits of it are pretty neat. Bits of it are just sickly. But the only one which makes me feel possessed with that pure, condensed rage of being 19 is the opener. Peeled Apples totally justifies the whole endeavour.
[Youtube]

10) Dizzee Rascal — Bonkers
When he was over from Canada, I introduced Kid-with-knife to the Words and Pictures bunch and went clubbing. Later, Kid dragged Sheret onto the empty dancefloor to throw down to Dizzee Rascal. It wasn’t to this. But in many ways, it really was.

In other notes: being a proper pop-star really suits Dizzee. Good work.
[Youtube]

9) Röyksopp — The Girl And The Robot
I refuse to admit the Girl and the robot is about anything other than a Girl And A Robot. It’s not about a distant, failing relationship. It’s about a Girl and A Robot. That bastard selfish robot!
[Youtube]

8 ) Fever Ray — If I Had A Heart
I didn’t like one-half-of-the-Knife’s Side-project at first. I stuck with it and it stuck to me. The earlier the morning you listen, the better it gets. The more you listen to everything else this year, the better it gets. Jamie doesn’t like it – which I kind of find telling. It’s kind of gone through Jamie’s aesthetic taste and come out the other side to some grim realm where there is only fog and slow, distorted weeping. People have asked me a lot this year “What music does Thor listen to”? I’ve never had a satisfactory answer.

But Hela would be all over this.
[Youtube]

7) Animal Collective — My Girls
Yeah, it’s a beautified version of an early-30-something dinner party (“Oh, my mortgage is just horrendous! It’s ghastly!”), but fundamentally it understands beneath the tedium of the chatter, the real human urges (“I am of this age, but I feel like I’m three, and my parents are going to die, and I’m worried I may let down some other humans I have begat and… FOR GOD’S SAKE, LET’S JUST EAT SOME STUFF”) which underlies such conversations… and then translates that into something that just hangs there, and makes those insecurities incandescent. Goldfish techno, all colours, water, movement, 2-second-beat-memory and light.
[Youtube]

6) Yeah Yeah Yeahs — Heads Will Roll
A brilliant example of the genre I like to call, Fantastic Fuck-off music. Also the first song in this entire list which I’ve had to turn all the way up, and then find myself disappointed that these headphones don’t go high enough. Seriously! I just stopped for another fiddle just now. A lot of other lists have picked Zero as their track from It’s Blitz… but I loved Heads Will Roll so much from the first listen that I always started with track 2, so barely ever listening to it.
[Youtube]

5) Fuck Buttons -Surf Solar
More Fantastic Fuck-off music. 10 minutes of beats and noise transformed into an engine for transformation – mainly, transformed to the end of the song, those 10 minutes a blur, with you skipping back to try again. I recall the old joke from the post-rock days where, mirroring dance-clubs with TUNE-signs, we thought about making a sign with NO-TUNE! to wave around appreciatively at particularly epic moments. Post-Rock gigs were never exactly comedy strongholds. Anyway – Surf Solar makes me want to make both signs and pump them in the air. If I was going to fight crime, I think I’d have Surf Solar on my headphones, in a perpetual loop, as I fucked shit up. The sound of a face caving in, awesomely.
[YouTube] (Not On Spotify)

4) Music Go Music – Warm in the Shadows
There is only one bad thing about Warm in the Shadows. It was on Spotify for a few weeks after release, then removed. Boo. Otherwise, this is plain delectable – and I do find myself smiling that the two longest records in the Top 40 have ended up next to one another, like twins. I’ve got to go back to 2002 – before I started these charts – and Pretty Like Drugs and Soldier Girl to find two records which embodied two opposite parts of my musical core as perfectly. Surf Solar all brutality, Warm In The Shadows all class – the sonic equivalent of the Ferrero Rocher Hype.

It’s also splendid for playing Canabalt to.
[Youtube] (Not On Spotify)

3) The xx — Infinity
The Young Marble Giants getting on with the fuck. And, like Portishead when Portishead were worth living for, and certainly worth having sex to. It’s an album to be taken as an album – more than anything else in the chart, the track I’ve chosen should be taken as a general pointer of “listen to this whole thing” – but Infinity’s modernised Isaakisms is starkly beautiful. If I’m listening to this at 3am in the morning, it’s normally in a far better, smokier mood than I am when I turn to Fever Ray.

Put it like this: if you’re not an active music follower, more than anything else in the list, this is the one you should listen to. It manages that difficult trick – which was only last pulled off for more than the briefest period by the Portishead/Tricky/Massive Attack Bristol Axis – of sounding modern and classic simultaneously.
[Youtube]

2) The Horrors — Sea Within A Sea
It worries me how much I like the Horrors. Not the usual “Aren’t the horrors shit? When did they get good” way – though I was among the many who vivisected their first album when I reviewed it for Plan B – but more in a… I worry about myself for liking them. They are, to use my own shorthand, very Kohl. I can easily imagine him whistling Who Can Say when walking away from some girl who should have known better. By which I mean, I can imagine me doing it – and I’m not exactly comfortable with that.

Or put it another way – this wasn’t a very Long Blondes year. Which is fantastic – much better than living through Long Blondes years – but it nags when there’s part of your internal dramatisation which is drawn to that kind of bullshit.

The Horrors are a special kind of bullshit. And, because this is pop music, that’s as special as it gets.

Sea Within The Sea is an enormous eight-minute single. It glowers as convincingly as any overcoated band has this decade and then – the key part – it transcends on eternally rising Morricone angel-wings. It’s the sort of song where I don’t feel ashamed at using imagery like “angel-wings” when talking about. I only feel ashamed that such imagery has been debased by being applied to things which aren’t Sea Within A Sea.

I haven’t seen a band so brilliantly re-invent themselves between first and second albums since Blur… and Primary Colours walks all over Modern Life is Rubbish.
[Youtube]

1) Florence + The Machine — Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
Flo does bug me.

When the whole La Roux/Little Boots/Florence troika was being forwarded, it was easy to see Florence being positioned as the credible option. By “credible” I mean “most appealing to Q readers”. The literate flourishes, the more-canon-influences and all that. Florence was the subtler one. The one who wasn’t as pop. The nagging problem that Florence’s idea of not-pop is the most bloody obvious way for a female artist to be credible. Or, to stop beating around this particular Bush… well, you know. The inevitably of how they would shake down annoyed the hell out of me.

None of which stopped me returning to the album repeatedly, and going through periods of absolute obsession. When you’re part of the inevitable it just bugs you even more.

Hell, I even liked the Candi Staton cover.

I alternated between Dog Days and Rabbit Heart as my favourite track. I’m going to choose the latter, because it best exemplifies my relationship with Florence. That is, by its sheer demented attack, it makes what’s easily torn-apart, undeniable. Rabbit Heart is about the compromises and glory of being being a performing creative – pure automythology, painting herself as some king of Beltane King doomed to burn, that the reward is part of the same thing as the price, and it’s finding transcendence in the doom. It’s a pretty sentiment, but it’s just a more reference-heavy version of a “it’s shit being a pop star”.

However, at its heights, it doesn’t sound like that at all. It sounds like a song about everything. She’s singing in such a way, it sounds like the ultimate act of creation and its ultimate price. That being, life and death. I found myself haunted by Rabbit Heart’s refrain for the weeks around my Gran’s death and funeral. Gifts and their price, and knowing it, and continuing anyway and…

Yeah, I’m reading into it. But something as gorgeous, as sure, as enormous as Rabbit Heart exists to be imprinted on. And Florence, being all too aware of gifts, is surely aware of that.

That said… Bat for Lashes has got to be pissed, yeah?
[Youtube]

The 34/40 Spotify Playlist. Thanks for reading in 2009. You are sweeties, except the meanies. And even they are probably sweeties.