Blame the concubine, who’s taken control of the Ipod and so loaded it up with all manner of disturbing material, but I headed home from a pub with a headful of tunes which eventually centres – that is, repeated to the point of ear-death – on Mint Royale/Lauren Laverne’s Don’t Falter,
Younger readers will only be aware of Lauren from her charming if lightweight pop-presenter life, but there was a time where she was one atrium of the great pop heart of one of the last, best guitar bands of the 2nd millennia AD. They split, and there was a brief moment where the solo projects promised interesting things… before they collapsed.
Don’t Falter was the absolute apex of that second, and one of the best (The Best?) things Lauren ever had her name on.
It’s one of the outright sappiest pop records that has ever found a way into my heart, but it has a spine – if only by implication – which support it. Lauren’s vocals are breathlessly happy, in love with the colours that surround her at the second where she’s so in love it stretches out infinitely around her. Mint Royale’s post big-beat pop-buzz is a clockwork box of pleasures, all archipedigos of joy and beyond-cute chords. It’s not just blissed out – the Avalanches’ “Since I left you” takes the prize of the period – but stupidly, joyously happy. That’s where the song’s based, happy to the point of pain.
“Hey – I love yer/When I’m with you it’s always summer” is not just both a reference to her current love’s group (Arab Strap), but with the entirely forced rhyme it stinks almost of deperation. Lauren *needs* it to rhyme.
Which is the key, and why there’s litle pure about its pure joy. Its sappiness is tainted with the knowledge – anyone who followed Lauren had went through “Get In!” to get here, so had dealt with the bad side. And now, she’s here, after a hell and wanting to be happy… and who can blame her for wanting it so badly?
Wanting it badly. That’s which adds the sadness to Don’t Falter. And if you don’t know the history, Lauren tells (“I used to feel so sad, I think so slow and drink too fast. Life had me blue and black till someone came and changed me back”) and the moves through the joy to a moment where she states – simply, plainly, cleanly – “You must be sad (Decide? – Ed) to risk your heart for love to find you”.
And then the chorus. Ignore the grand sweeps of sentimentalism – they’re the pay-off, rather than the setting. Take the title alone: Don’t Falter. The implication is that they may falter. And the happiness is at once a propecy of how it should be and how that part of her – the smarter part, the dumber part, the part that’s been around the block and knows that feeling this good won’t last – knows it won’t be.
It’s not a song about being happy forever – its a song written in a moment when you feel that happiness could last forever with the knowledge that it probably won’t.
Don’t give up on yourself. Don’t give up on me. Don’t falter.
The punchline being that they did.