…friday, I’m in love #03 – loud noises

Friday, I’m in Love aims to tell the stories of how I came to find some of my favourite music. Usually – more often than not – they come on a Friday. Some of these bands have been with me forever, others are very, very new to me, my iPod and my world. Whether they’ll stick around, I couldn’t tell you, but for now they seem to make some kind of sense.

While I’ve not being doing this for long enough to have formed any kind of convention, in the interest of actually posting something about something the convention we might’ve been using is going to take a break this week. I’d like to – if I may – take some time to talk about two albums that have found their way into rather heavy rotation on my Apple branded music player over the last couple of weeks or so.

The theme will be loud noises.

I came across Fuck Buttons last year around the time their album Street Horrrsing started getting attention on the internets. To be honest, I can’t really remember what drew me to them. If anything, it’s likely to have been a need for something new and different to what I was listening to at the time. And different it was.

On paper Fuck Buttons are the not sort of band I’d usually take a liking to. They produce a sound that does always come across as if it was designed to be “enjoyed”, and have a name that makes me wish they were around when I was a teen – not because I think I actually would’ve been into them, but I can’t help but think the name Fuck Buttons on a t-shirt would’ve gone down a treat at family gatherings [1].

Street Horrrsing pulled me in with its slow builds of gentle tinkering and crashing waves of distorted well, everything. Built with a strange combination of children’s toys and cheap and ancient Casio keyboards running through a series of large, torn speakers, layered occasionally with faulty Dalek vocals, each track builds and blends into the next, never really ending or beginning. It carries with it a dark and ominous tone that runs through the length of its just-shy-of-fifty minutes. And even though nothing I’ve said about Street Horrrsing makes it sound even remotely enjoyable, it all pulls together and becomes somehow listenable. Or at the very least, a useful tool for drowning out noisy school kids on the bus.

In contrast, their latest album – Tarot Sport – almost sounds positively optimistic and cheery. In fact, I’m going to drop the ‘almost’ and say, compared to Street Horrrsing, Tarrot Sport is Fuck Button’s pop album – although the tracks are far too long to be played on the radio, and Fuck Buttons is a name that will never appear on Video Hits. While the layers of distortion are still present, dark and ominous take a back seat to major chords, stirring synths and rousing drums. Think of a modern retelling of Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds – if Street Horrrsing is the sound of the world falling apart, Tarot Sport is it pulling itself back together.

While nothing they’re doing is all that new, what they do do, they do very, very well. Fuck Buttons have the ability to take us on a not always plesant, but strangely affecting journey.


Fuck Buttons – Solar Surf (the truncated three, as opposed to ten minute version)

———-

I’d say the first time I looked into The Twilight Sad, it was probably due to a reaction along the lines of how dare they chose a name so close to one of my favourite bands of all time?! Or something of the like [2]. Not that it has anything to do with anything, but The Twilight Sad are a four piece from Scotland and I’m not telling you anything you can’t read yourself on Wikipedia so we’ll skip all of the boring band history bullshit and cut right to, they’re bloody brilliant.

Even now when I scroll past ‘T’ on my Apple branded music player or application, I can’t help but still feel a twinge of “how dare they?!” when I see The Twlight Sad sitting right above my beloved Twilight Singers. The (some would say, unfortunately timed [3]) ‘T’ word however is all The Sad and The Singers have in common. Their first album, Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters was one of the highlights of my two thousand and seven.

Gigantic guitars and enormous drums surround lyrics that tell tales of dark times and darker places. The stand-out track from Fourteen Autumns… – and the song that really cemented my love of the band – Talking with Fireworks/Here it Never Snows opens with a crashing wall of sound that sounds like the musical equivalent of a Roland Emmerich disaster porn picture [4], before rolling back slightly to reveal the refrain:

And does your fear not grow when
When you see that you’re all mine
See that your all mine
With a knife in your chest
With a knife in your chest

And then, not long after, back to the crashing.

Talking With Fireworks… falls right in the middle of the over far too soon, could fit on one side of a ninety minute cassette Fourteen Autumns. And although the journey is a short one, and its stories are bleak, Fourteen Autumns carries itself on warm tones and an uplifting sound that contrasts its dark somber. It’s an amazing album, and as far as I was concerned its follow-up could not come soon enough.

With Forget the Night Ahead however, they’ve taken the almost-opposite approach to Fuck Buttons [5]. Any hope hinted at in the music of Fourteen Autumns is forgotten quickly once the swirling feedback and rolling bass of the opening track – Reflection of the Television – creep in. It’s an ominous opening that carries through the first half of the album, to the beautiful piano driven The Room.

And then, not long after, back to the crashing. That beautiful crashing.

Forget the Night Ahead is one of those rare occasions where a band has been able to take their second album in a different direction to the first, without losing the characteristics that made the first so great. And once again, the only complaint is that it’s over all too soon.


The Twilight Sad – I Became a Prostitute.

—–
[1] As far as my being a rebellious teen is concerned, I like to think my parents got off pretty lightly. My worst case of acting out through band merch would’ve been my Ugly Kid Joe t-shirt, featuring the artwork from their EP “Ugly as the Wanna Be” – a cartoon picture of the band’s mascot giving the finger, which when compared to the slogans and pictures featured on today’s band merch seems fairly laughable.

[2] It should be noted this is not the first time this has happened. I remember having a similar reaction when hearing about a band called The Whigs. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your world view), The Whigs came nowhere close to reaching the heights of their may-or-may-not-be namesakes.

[3] On that, fuck you Stephenie Meyer and your army of tweens for making it very, very hard for me to wear any of my Twilight related band merch. No, I do not like your fucking vampire books that much that as a(n almost) grown man, I must display my love with a t-shit. My Twilight was here first, and is far more important and impressive than anything you could possibly dream up in that sexually repressed mormon brain.

[4] Only with the added bonus actually having a fuck tone emotional depth and resonance, as opposed to none.

[5] A fucking awkward and awful segue if ever I wrote one, as Fuck Buttons and The Twilight Sad have nothing to do with each other, apart from the fact I lumped them together in this journal thing. Shame on me.

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Author: Mark Ampersand

Budding writer, connoisseur of fine popular culture and Batman fan.

1 thought on “…friday, I’m in love #03 – loud noises”

  1. Ooohhh I like this fuck buttons, it’s almost as if Richard James discovered Jean Michele Jarre in a lonely bar, plied him with drinks and 9 months later a wonderful little abortion was produced.
    Then these two came along, harvested it’s stem cells and produced something akin to aural magic.

    Thank you good sir for once again providing me with new obsessions.

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