“I’m not afraid of heights. I’m afraid of fallin’.”
(Harry Dean Stanton, “Paris, Texas”)
I’m more than half way through my life.
I am old enough to know better.
But the only thing I really know is that I don’t know nothing.
Certainly I am too old to be falling in love with strangers.
I’ve been here before.
A band not draped in some sort of nineties cosplay outfit.
Hints of the bands who really matter.
Occasionally they have worn shoes and not, as our American cousins will have it, “sneakers”.
But on each of these occasions, I have been let down. Left feeling betrayed. What’s left of my heart, broken. My soul is aching. Still yearning. Desperately seeking, if not Susan, then someone, or something, that I can really love. The way I loved the bands who wrote the songs that saved my life.
I got myself in a right old tizzy a while back when I heard “Pavlova”.
“There is a glorious, maybe furious, rejection of the ugly machismo of so much of what passes for indie.” Said I, with hope in my heart and a prayer on my lips. Dear God, please help me.
It might have been a one off.
Maybe waxing lyrical with the name of Anna Pavlova wasn’t evidence of a cultural capacity that saw further than “Be Here Fucking Now”, maybe they just liked meringue. Worse, perhaps like Chris Martin with “yellow", there was no meaning behind the use of the name at all…it just happened to rhyme. Wouldn’t that have been awful. Sister, these weren’t no poets, they was just chancers. The horror.
What I needed was proof that this was a band I could take to the grave…
“Pavlova” is romantic as all Hell. Clever too, innit. Indier than thou. But I needed more, if I was going to stand on top of the mount transfiguration and bellow to the other souls looking for a reason to declare discipleship, I had to be able to give them something…else.
“How To Ask” gives me all I ever needed, all I ever wanted.
“Pavlova” is here, and that alone elevates the whole affair to a different level than the likes of… insert name of tired, and trite, indie “rock” band here.
“Wherever You Need” has echoes of…certain things, a swagger, a charm, a strength, thunderously delicate. It’s a floor filler, if the floor to be filled has fey boys and bashful girls surrounding it. “Education Is Like This” is the sort of thing that, when singles were still physical entities, would have been tucked away on the b-side of “Pavlova”…only to be discovered by the faithful and hailed as the sort of thing that other, lesser, bands would kill their own Auntie Mabel for as an a-side.
I am satisfied.
But then “For Belugas” begins to spin on the turntable.
We are no longer in Kansas, Toto.
The sound of youth and young manhood.
Hope and hopelessness.
Dreams…never to be fulfilled.
More lyrical nods to dancing…metaphor, what metaphor? Unrequited love?
Lovers at last united?
Sweet and tender, definitely, defiantly so.
But cut through with a fire and a fierce flourish of something harder, tougher. This is the song.
I can breathe again.
Now I can be sure.
This is it.
These are them.
They are I.
Oh, I wish I was young enough to be there with you.
Let them in.
Cast out the pretenders.
Chase the money lenders from the temple.
They are the light.