Felt

Forever Breathes the Lonely Word (Creation 1986)

http://www.mediafire.com/?0dx3dyjobzm

You’ve got to have some chutzpah to adorn yourself with the singular moniker of Lawrence and then aim for a Vulcan mind meld with Tom Verlaine and Bob Dylan and try to make it big in an England enamored with the Smiths, the Jam and New Order. Of the three bands, the Smiths were the closest to being their kindred spirits as both bands relied heavily on frontmen well-versed in alienation and understated, but nimble guitarists who wrenched the maximum amount of emotion and expression out of each successive jangle. However, the script was flipped when Deebank walked out of the band and Lawrence enlisted organist Martin Duffy to be his new foil. You wouldn’t think an organist would be a suitable focal point in the indie scene of 80s England, but his addition resulted in their most straightforward, accessible and focused album in Forever Breathes the Lonely Word. What was once lighter than air gained some body and gravitas and provided a perfect canvas for Lawrence to indulge his infatuation with Dylan and Verlaine as Duffy jams out in his own mellow manner.

Where Morrissey was busy pondering his awkwardness in his own skin and a passive-aggressive relationship with love, Lawrence pursued a more philosophical, literary bent. He tosses off references to the Iliad, the Bible and the mythical isle of Avalon and portrays a series of nihilistic protagonists who aim for the heavens knowing full well that they will fall short of happiness. The opener “Rain of Crystal Spires” is most definitely one of their catchiest tunes, but the lyrics are devoted to the pursuit of lowering your expectations. It’s hapless hero chases beauty and perfection only to be shot down by his paramour and be told that he’s the kind of fellow that the sun will never shine upon. Instead of fighting it, he accepts his wayward fate and this embrace of misery and failure echoes throughout the album. Forever Breathes the Lonely Word is the most charming, intelligent, well-read gentleman in the room that never gets the girl because life has taught him too much about the nature of humanity. I guess that is why he includes a lovely ditty about how everyone worthy of his time is already six feet under. Lawrence was an idealist and the present was far too inferior to the angelic shine of what could have been in a perfect world. The imperfect one in which we all exist was one deflating bother. Thankfully, this conflict is what imbues this album with an epic grandeur even if it tackles that same lovesick themes as his peers. Everyone loves a misanthropic romantic. God knows I do.

Adventures in Stereo

Blue Album (Creeping Bent 1997)

http://www.mediafire.com/?ywtmzvcw3ey

Primal Scream was always Bobby Gillespie’s outlet for whatever genre’s corpse he felt like fucking at that particular moment. I’m not going to act like I didn’t believe Screamadelica and XTRMNTR were bold statements at the time of their release, but hindsight is a cruel mistress. Almost their entire catalogue sounds so dated and opportunistic these days, but I guess that is the nature of their game. However, I still love their debut album, Sonic Flower Groove, since it is more fey than a Little Lord Fauntleroy costume. Their early singles for Creation are even better statements of their twee purpose as the band succeeds in crafting perfect pop tunes with the heft of an empty garbage bag, This is no insult because I still hum along to “Velocity Girl” each time I hear it because it is one of the most concise and perfect sides of pop perfection.

Jim Beattie was a founding member of Primal Scream, but left before that pasty-faced Scot believed he was a hallucinogenic prophet, then Mick Jagger’s uglier kin, then a cyberpunk, trip-hopping danger to no one. He left to focus his efforts on Spirea X, a band that recorded an amazing single for 4AD before following it with an underwhelming album. The single got me all worked up over his continuation of the Creation era of Primal Scream, but his songwriting grew thin over the course of a full-length. I wrote the fellow off until I encountered the two cds released under the moniker of Adventures in Stereo. One was Blue, the other yellow, but both seemed to be semi-official releases due to the uncleared samples that formed the foundation for Beattie’s second stab at twee.

Beattie and vocalist Judith Boyle pay homage to Phil Spector’s work with 60s girl groups, but keep things somewhat fresh by incorporating tape loops and samples as the bedrock for their upate of 60s AM radio. To be honest, most of this wouldn’t sound out of place on K, Creation, Sarah or Slumberland, but the songwriting places it a step above most of their contemporaries. The Blue Album is just a stellar collection of moody, introspective indie-pop that reminds me of Tracey Thorn’s solo album or her work with the Marine Girls. It’s a dated formula, but it works wonders here.

It’s a shame that the Yellow and Blue albums were released in such limited quantities because the band shit the bed on its subsequent releases. What was once a charming patchwork quilt of AM Gold and twee was abandoned in favor of more beats and a slicker sheen. What was once rough is now sanded smooth and their music suffered because of it. Therefore, they now populate budget bins and no one cares to investigate the origins of what made them special.