I'm going to try and be more disciplined in making sure the stuff I plan to write about actually gets written about - maybe by keeping everything short so that I don't get bored and leave it as draft #4237. For now let's get all retrospective - ha - and talk about pop from the last couple of months.
Res - Golden Boys
"We've got these images, we need them to be true" - almost harshly nasal with contempt, Res does great scorn, but what makes "Golden Boys" so affecting is how clearly her show of strength is scar tissue lacing over barely healed wounds. Res may talk about "girls like me" who can see past the rock gods in the magazines, but it's a hard-won scepticism (why would she care otherwise?). "I saw you on TV and you made life look fun" is passed over quickly, a short and regrettable prelude to the more important stage of enlightenment, but it informs the rest of this ode to the fleeting, unreal celebrities who never delivered on the happiness they promised. "Making life look fun" is the grand crime, and while Res is willing to accept that these pretty boys probably aren't smart enough to recognise their complicity within the Great Lie, she's unwilling to accept that the shift from the dream of pop to self-aware maturity ("years go by and people grow") is as much a self-inflicted wound, that believing in the great lie is a privilege as much as a delusion, and that maturity necessarily brings with it bitterness.
Maybe "Golden Boys" is the evil twin to Britney's "Lucky" - if the latter represents the possibility of dialogue between pop and its audience - "Lucky" as personal revelation/dramatic irony/hilarious joke built on everything that the world has said or thought about Britney - then "Golden Boys" takes the self-consciously oppositional role as the mouthpiece for pop's discontents, its breach of pop's edifice (the charts) something of a deliberate Trojan horse tactic. It's entryist
pop I guess, but it has little of the artifice that I'd associate with that term. To better qualify it could do with some perfect piston-pop production from Max Martin, and maybe in some abstract sense that would render it a better record than it is.
But I'm more than happy with the current arrangement: clattering, seemingly random drumming leading into a psychically-not-musically dispirited funk groove, all tinkling piano chords, zinging guitar and an entrancingly disjointed rhythm section, then cathartic string-assisted choruses, still with those ear-sizzling percussion excesses. Bizarrely, it reminds me of "Losing My Edge" - or rather, the first time I heard "Losing My Edge" I thought of this, and it only occurred to me later that both songs are pop records about how we relate to pop music. And as songs that look towards the past for their musical source material, both come away sounding oddly rejuvenated. Finally, with its natural soulful groove making eyes at skykicking-friendly ideas about rhythm, "Golden Boys" perhaps also exists in a relationship with the retro-happy nu-funk of Beyonce's "Work It Out", opposite sides of a coin staring straight at eachother as much as out onto different vistas (nu-soul and modern R&B). Needless to say I like it more than anything I've heard from Alicia Keys et. al.
(thanks to the excellent-lately Nathalie
for the tip off)