# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Various - Songs For The Blue Times

  by Matthew Willson

published: 17 / 12 / 2001

Various - Songs For The Blue Times
Label: Autoreverse
Format: CD


This compilation's subtitle, "A suicidal pop collection" raises a few questions. Suicide and the icons of pop music have always had an edgy relationship, but that music so unashamedly dark in sound an

This compilation's subtitle, "A suicidal pop collection" raises a few questions. Suicide and the icons of pop music have always had an edgy relationship, but that music so unashamedly dark in sound and subject matter could acheive the life-affirming spirit usually required of the pop genre seems surprising. Will the songs then chart the self-inspired death of the popular aesthetic, or merely its assimilation into the deathliest throws of lo-fi melancholia? The minimal sleeve notes offer a little help - these are songs to help you through the darkest hours, "Careful arms for the damaged". The concept of "suicidal pop" as a genre is intriguing, and while it may be offputting to some, I found myself drawn in by this collection of songs, varied in style but consistently emotional and atmospheric. The exclusive GNAC track which opens the compilation sets the agenda with a synthesised baroque dirge that washes over the listener with an almost formulaic air of melancholy. If you can take this without cringing, what follows will reward. A quietly epic slow waltz with wispy vocals courtesy of the Montgolfier Brothers leads into two more satisfying guitar-led tracks from Tram and Broken Dog, combining quiet droney harmony, steady rhythms and calming sad vocals. It is this sound which dominates much of the album, creating a sleepy downbeat ambience which can be very relaxing but also very intense at times. It seems a paradox that songs such as these which are often branded as depressing can be strangely uplifting and powerful for the right person in the right mood. This could be held true for many of the album's 16 tracks, which often escape the limits of minor-key melancholia to create a more dreamy lo-fi sound reminiscent of bands like Low, for example the track "Sorry" by For Stars. The Masters of the Hemisphere then follow this up with some rhythmic lo-fi rock melodies that should be enough to cheer up any suicidal case. Alongside the more straightforward songwriting, the album's ambience is boosted with a number of interesting instrumentals from artists such as 90 Degrees South, International Airport and Valvola. More dancey atmospheric rhythms and dreamy post-rock guitars all fit into the album's mood and create an interesting mix. The songs still, however, form some of the highlights of the compilation. Marine Research contribute a particularly nice track, a jangly droning guitar waltz with clear vocals and a dark dreamy feel. Another beautiful track from Melochrome combines heavenly vocals with an echoey guitar and synth backing and more lively drumming to create a memorable melodic interval. The Bitter Springs seem the only band on the compilation to take the determinedly depressing sound to the point of self-parody ("He drinks piss and he eats shit/just to prove he can stomach it"). We are finally left with a track from Piano Magic, reminiscent of quieter moments from Sonic Youth and Yo la tengo. "The Canadian Brought Us Snow" combines the best of their lo-fi guitar soundscapes with dreamy vocals and poetic lyrics, and rounds the CD off beautifully. Despite their absence the influence of more obvious "suicide-pop" choices like The Cure and Joy Division is felt in many of the more downbeat dreamy guitar sounds on the album. Rather than making the more predictable choices however, the compiler has picked a number of smaller bands and labels which, though quite varied would fit broadly under the lo-fi/indie bracket. As such the compilation should prove a good starting point for those exploring the more dreamy, melancholy side of these genres, and a good introduction to some promising new bands for those already interested. Of course the appeal of some of this material depends strongly on both the mood and personality of the listener, but much of the songwriting on this compilation has an honest beauty that breaks free from the "suicidal" bracket it is grouped under. The compiler's intentions seem to be fulfilled, in that the album's purpose and effect does not appear depressive, but rather expressive.

Track Listing:-
1 Gnac : Una Chanson Du Crepscule
2 Montgolfier Brothers : Even I My Mind Can Tell You
3 Tram : Nothing Left To Say
4 Broken Dog : You Should Go Home
5 Air Wave : Comme Tout Va Bien
6 For Stars : Sorry
7 International Airport : Western Light Bulge
8 Masters Of The Hemisphere : Summertime
9 Marine Research : You And A Girl
10 Valvola : Vanishing Girl
11 Vitesse : The Saddest Day
12 Melochrome : All The Jens In The World
13 Osaka : Key Point Of Zen
14 Bitter Springs : The Ballad Of Stubby Little Finge
15 90o South : Caoe Grozier
16 Piano Magic : The Canadian Brought Us Snow

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