The Church Of Me
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Kissing in the churchyard, I know a righteous woman

Wednesday, February 01, 2006
CELEBRITY BIG BROTHER – AUTOPSY OR PROLOGUE?

Of course Chantelle had to win; she recognised her designated role very early on, and the public theirs. After all, if Celebrity Big Brother were to present us with a test case of how a perfect and mutually equal human society could exist – an ideal life where, as in ideal art, every person should be the same size – then its experiment would have proved untenable if the non-celebrity had not tugged herself up to the level of the celebrities, or the celebrities not dragged themselves down…but you see the fatal flaw in this argument already.

A “normal” Big Brother assemblage could not have sustained this Platonic mirage of an ideal, for there it has repeatedly been demonstrated that contestants, or inhabitants, will do anything to make themselves “bigger” – to sweat, or cook, or fuck their way to fame, as opposed to questioning the point of fame. Does the megafascism of “worship me, your idol” outweigh the microfascism of “that was my coat” or “coffee, anyone?” as demonstrated daily in the workplace of your communal choice?

“You are not going to win support or respect by placing yourself out of the ordinary…You need to be approachable but you also need to be yourself. That’s what young people respect.” That’s a recent quote from one Alex Folkes, the speaker for a pressure group named Votes at Sixteen, apropos George Galloway, and it’s the kind of exhausting, fatuous anti-philosophy which tempts me to form a pressure group called Votes at Thirty. Nevertheless it is (un)pretty fitting for an age bereft of desire for godhood. Where once we assembled in front of screens or stages to gasp in awe at people doing and achieving things we could never hope of doing or achieving ourselves – but how we luxuriated, carried ourselves afloat, on the dream of doing so – now all we require is a humbling mirror. This is the sort of thing which stops dangerous people from gaining power, but also the kind of closure which would ultimately forbid all art.

In any case, how can we hope to “be ourselves” except when we’re by ourselves? In the office, in the shop, on the bus, in the front room or the bedroom with our partner, we are obliged by not unreasonable laws of rationalism to “act,” to play a role, for if we didn’t – if we really took the adage “this is me, take it or leave it” – then everybody would have been left a long time ago, and probably destroyed into the bargain. Live life in front of witnesses as you really are, and you risk losing job, home, money, family and possibly sanity. Raise the spectre of widespread public racism, as Faria Alam did when commenting, justifiably, on how black and Asian contestants never stood a chance of winning any Big Brother…and you are promptly voted out and heralded by boos and jeers, thereby proving your point.

Even – especially – Chantelle learned the value of acting. Those series of rapid fire “Omigod”s were a little too rapid to be spontaneous, the posing already scripted. Little wonder that Jodie Marsh – who, after all, is Chantelle half a decade hence – was so keen to bond with her, even if only to warn her not to end up like “me” – you’ll be jeered and sneered at by old men, just as I am, and you won’t have the screen of “non-celebrity” as a free pass any more. Chantelle’s smile was as big as her 2006/7 balance sheet will be, and as pulsating and palpable as paper. Because it would be uncomfortable to think of Celebrity Big Brother 2006 as a glorified X-Factor, constructed for the benefit of allowing one more working-class earth salt through the narrow portals for instantaneous patronisation and minimal reward, is why I prefer to think of it as a Robert Owen societal model, albeit one defined by models. Models, after all, can be snapped in two, but there are no hearts as obstacles to their perpetual life. Even if they start out with hearts, society quickly corrects them of that lonely misapprehension.

Moreover, CBB was the product of a specifically British mindset, so it’s hardly surprising that the two connected Americans thought it best not to say much of anything (save occasional involuntary eruptions from Dennis Rodman). Rodman realised his rehearsed redundancy almost at the point of entering; after all, you can have a two-year affair with Madonna, or turn up for a book signing session dressed as a bride (accompanied by several women dressed as groomsmen) – but what could he produce against the Atlantic-striven inexplicability of Pete Burns or Maggot? Not to mention the Ordinary Boy of a pop “star” – doubtless Endemol considered it a waste of effort even asking Alex Turner – or the Goldie Lookin’ Chain maggot, both of whom could justifiably claim to be less famous than Chantelle, even if measured only by the continued abundance of their oeuvre, competitively priced, in second-hand record shops up and down the country.

But if CBB were an exercise in human equality, then it was more or less a reductionist exercise, the house a vortex into which every atom of independence is semi-wittingly drawn and sucked. Again, this is part of the ideal – to look at the ridiculousness of these people and wonder how we could ever have hoped to idolise them, to turn their base papules into golden chalices. Stripped of their repertoires, the residents had no alternative other than to act their deeper selves – and the depth turned out, by and large, to be shockingly shallow. Rula Lenska, for instance – unquestionably Endemol deemed it a squandering of resources barely telephoning the agent of Joan Collins – drier of face and harder of spirit since the Rock Follies of three decades ago, wanting so much to be a mother figure but blatantly in need of mothering. In 1977, aged thirteen, purring on all fours at the feet of Rula Lenska was not an unfamiliar feature of my dreams; in 2006, aged far too wrongly, one saw her manoeuvres as the Actors’ Studio (Beaconsfield branch) staples they always were.

Or Pete Burns, who once threatened to be the Rula Lenska of 1986, reminding us wittingly of how much Paul O’Grady copped from him, but also of that long-gone Melody Maker era of mouthy Northerners – Wylie, McCulloch, Hussey, Almond – with four-page interviews in which they ranted splenetically and sometimes hilariously about the shortcomings of their peers as shoved up against the unquestionable, if improbable, greatness of their selves. Funny how little of that greatness was visible or audible in most of the music they actually made, but then…Burns talks that way of, and about, and to, everybody, even the twentysomethings who didn’t know who the fuck he was other than track 2 on CD2 of School Disco: This Time It’s Benzedrine, and ultimately they realised that he was talking to, and about, and of, nobody except himself. Perhaps “You Spin Me Round” will be reissued and get to number one a second time, just like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “My Sweet Lord,” and Burns won’t even have had to die to do it, which will cheer him up no end and also prove something eerily fathomable about the permanence of pop music.

And that leaves just George and Michael.

And indeed although George proved again the immutability of Billy Bragg’s law – viz. I agree with everything he says but why did it have to be him saying it? – as well as the ultimate uselessness of politics. When Paxman brandished the tabloid front page on Newsnight, inviting coherent explanations of what “Chantelle beds Preston” could possibly mean with the kind of anxiously non-roving eye which spelt out that he was watching every second of the programme – why else did he end up making a cameo appearance? – it laid out, not so much a Berlin wall between Newsnight Britain and Big Brother Britain, but a Moebius strip; after all, why is “Chantelle beds Preston” less valid or less equal than months of “Quinn beds Blunkett”? Why worship politicians when all that broadsheets and sympathetic media do is hide the fact that they are behaving exactly the same? Believe me, Galloway seemed to warn the viewers, and you are in danger of believing in politics; in danger of taking for granted (and elected) the phenomenon of David Cameron, who is either a very dangerous fraud or a very smart double agent. Ridicule me and excuse Simon Hughes, whom Peter Tatchell should now be suing for 23 years’ lost income – who’s the deadlier operator?

So, yes, look at me, I’m a cat, because the producers asked me to be, because what are producers other than glorified Chief Whips? I’m in a leotard pretending to be bemused at the slowness of an imaginary laggard puppy, dancing to electropop like a robot from 1984. Now I’m Elvis, looking pretty much like I did in 1972. Now I’m crouched invisible beneath a cardboard box with a photograph of me covering my own mouth…

…and weren’t those talking, silent boxes a wonder of surrealism? Wasn’t that the greatest, least reasonable thing you’d seen on television, maybe since the pilot (and only) episode of Freddie Starr’s Madhouse, featuring amongst others Michael Barrymore? Not the most frightening thing you’d seen on television, like the last surviving Dalek – and wasn’t that the true final episode of The Prisoner, the real Number 1? – but certainly the most luxuriantly great thing. It made me think that perhaps the residents should have been kept there on a lifelong basis, Truman Show-style, so that we might have something to aspire away from (to despire to?)…

…now I’m making a 55-year-old man cry, now he’s making a daft pro-America speech so full of empty platitudes as Peter Sellers’ old "Party Political Broadcast" routine…and now here’s my less-than-daft anti-America speech, and here’s where I’ll get the politics in, and the trouble is, viewer, dearer reader, that he was ridiculed, or ignored (“And your point is?”), and they were practised riffs which I’ve seen and heard him deliver in Hillhead and Hoxton, and all points in between, but unfortunately what he said in that speech was 100% true and rational and stark and sensible, so actually he was the only person in that house really speaking the truth, and I could go all Colonel Jack Nicholson here and roar about “your” inability to handle the truth but then what if that “you” is Michael Barrymore?

“He tickled my cheek a little too much on the Left, whereas my cheek leans more to the Right”
(Barrymore’s debriefing interview after exiting the house)

Did we expect Barrymore to be otherwise? Recall the smartingly lucid description in Gordon Burn’s novel The North Of England Home Service, where his hero, the ageing Geordie comic Ray Cruddas, looks back at his days as “virtually the court jester” to the Thatcher administration: “Like Jimmy Tarbuck and Ted Rogers and others who had also grown up in the old industrial regions…Unlike Tarbie, who was squat and perspiring and still carried the authentic whiff of a working class she had made no secret that she regarded as idle, deceitful, inferior and bloody-minded…” And just as Ted Rogers fell out of fashion with TV producers, went bankrupt and shortly before his death was reduced to making a series of McDonald’s commercials, looking so ill that he resembled Boris Karloff; just as Tarbuck is out in Weybridge golfing limbo, and may even have defected to New Labour (if that can be termed a “defection”); so the unambiguously Essex working class Barrymore exiled himself out of showbusiness to a life of psuedo-lontananzo in New Zealand, acting in school pantos but otherwise doing a lot of not very much except a lot of hiding. With Celebrity Big Brother, he saw a clear way back from being the next Tony Hancock (though by the time of his suicide in 1968, Hancock’s liver was so fucked by drink that in any event he would have been unlikely to see in the seventies).

And the problem with Barrymore is that he is a brilliant improviser, as droll in his own way as Paul Rutherford, as knowingly, eclectically dismissive as Eugene Chadbourne. Play back any of his ‘90s ITV shows and you will see a brilliantly elastic and instinctive mover – he is almost Robert Helpmann reincarnate – a quick and (aesthetically) radical wit. The studio, though big, seems to cramp into a corner in his shadow. On his “My Kind Of People” shopping centre karaoke expeditions he ridicules the doomed hopes of would-be singers with far more finality than Cowell or Osbourne could ever muster; always standing behind or in front of them, aping them, impersonating them, jumping on them, burying their forlorn belief of individuality – see, you’re nothing special, I can do it. It’s a giant palisade of egotism disguised as beneficence. And it’s executed with such speed and grace that all one can do is marvel. Remember that Barrymore was in, to a degree, on the alternative comedy boom of the ‘80s – he was one of the rotating presenters of Friday (and later) Saturday Night Live, as much a part of the show as Elton or Mayall or French or Saunders or Enfield. And usually he was a lot funnier. In the ‘90s, some complained that he was merely doing a mainstream, watered-down Vic Reeves, which seems to me to miss his point mightily (even if his point is that there is no point) – Reeves’ work, even at his best, is an extended cod-surrealist sneer from someone you know has Stockhausen and Beaver and Krause records in their collection; in other words, Reeves is continually demonstrating how far above all this music hall/Saturday Variety muck he is. Whereas Barrymore, with his background of Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club and Seaside Special and Central Pier bottom-of-the-bill summer seasons, comes from that tradition to begin with. Even his egotism (as per “My Kind Of People”) comes across as forgivable – he’s having such a whale of a time you forget any notion of subtext. So his genuinely surrealist television ballet/ballast has much more to do with what ropes he might have learned from Bernie Clifton and Norman Collier rather than the refectory of the University of East Anglia.

(Furthermore, when I lived in Chiswick in the mid-‘90s, I shopped at the same local record shop as Barrymore, and even saw him in there on a couple of occasions. I clearly recall him purchasing, amongst other items, the first Pan Sonic album)

Thus did Barrymore come across the most genuine of the participants in Celebrity Big Brother, and pretty much the default winner (“The Public Forgives Barrymore” will I suspect sustain a lot longer than “Chantelle, The ‘Nobody.’ Wins”) just as we recall “Common People” and “Wonderwall” and not the Robson and Jerome records which, statistically, kept both from the number one slot. He duly wept, he duly improvised and he duly moved, and when he moved, regardless of what he was dressed as (a Frenchman taking the piss out of Cassette Boy taking the piss out of Jamie Oliver!), I couldn’t take my eyes off him. When viewing the “Big Brother Movie” wherein all the participants impersonated each other (if you want to talk about Bunuel’s Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie), Barrymore sat in the audience, in tuxedo and bowtie, his face creasing up in genuine laughter and enjoyment, and he looked the only real star amongst the lot of them. Maybe that’s the lesson to be taken away from Celebrity Big Brother; however much we pretend to strive to become the same size, some people just can’t help having been born bigger – in every way – than others.

ARCTIC MONKEYS

Thinking about the late Derek Bailey, as I have been doing quite a lot recently, set me to thinking about Sheffield – a city I have only ever seen from the inside of a car or a train carriage, en route to somewhere else, even though one of the best friends I ever had moved there over a decade ago; the hecticity of my life at the time prevented me from paying a visit, and thus did we inevitably drift out of touch – and similarly it’s impossible to think about the Arctic Monkeys without thinking about Sheffield, and all of the other music which has been written about the city, sufficient in quantity to make me believe that I know its desolate steely streets in depth. So one cannot listen to their album – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not; what a defensive title for a debut record, yet what a typically Sheffieldian title – without remembering that it forms one part of a sociogeographic map which also takes into account The Lexicon Of Love, Dare, Red Mecca, Different Class and Coles Corner; all differing perspectives on the same place.

Thus there was the initial and long-lasting industrial boom out of which arose proud, steely and smoky voices such as Joe Cocker, Tony Christie and (towards the end) Joe Elliott; then the enforced collapse of British Steel which left a wasteland, or a playground – a graveyard or a space for reinvention. The gradual encroachment of the leisure and service industries set against the death of old dust was at the centre of that great Sheffield quartet of 1981 records – Cabaret Voltaire’s Red Mecca and Clock DVA’s Thirst rubbed our noses in the blackness, but permitted surreal perspectives to sneak through the Thatcherite cloak; Heaven 17’s Penthouse And Pavement mocked with steamroller irony the technophilic rush towards 2000 which would necessarily entail the proportional push of the working population back towards 1815; the Human League shrugged their shoulders with Dare, grinned and kissed a lot, and invited us to believe that the long yearned for Jetsons future could still be ours, provided our wits and blindfolds were both proportionally represented. Consider the inner sleeve of Hysteria, the Human League’s seldom-venerated 1984 follow-up album, which sees the “family” of the group pottering about benignly in the front room of a Sheffield suburban semi – but note how the room is otherwise almost entirely empty, save a television broadcasting Norman Wisdom’s 1965 film The Early Bird, as though the bailiffs had already stripped it bare.

As the uncertain ‘90s came into existence, however, the distance between old and new had widened and the passion of imminent death dissipated. Jarvis Cocker, an occasionally noticed sideline of a figure in '80s Sheffield music, suddenly became the city’s leading aesthetic spokesman – even though he had long since done a flit to London, epics such as “Sheffield Sex City,” “David’s Last Summer” and “Live Bed Show” conjoined erudition, hurt, sex, mischief, profundity, trivia, studium and punctum with a faith so flinty that it could only have been imagined in (or out of) Sheffield. Apart from the strangely ethereal murmurings of Babybird, the major Sheffield songwriters of the last decade have remained Cocker, and later Richard Hawley (who periodically added his lap steel to Pulp records and gigs when required) – apart from their own work, consider other Sheffield-based operatives such as The All Seeing I, Relaxed Muscle and I, Monster, projects in which either or both men have been deeply and indispensably involved.

As great as Cocker and Hawley are, however, theirs is necessarily a middle-aged perspective on Sheffield – even if Jarvis could make Tony Christie, old enough to be his dad (just), giggle at the inbuilt absurdities of “Walk Like A Panther.” And this, inevitably, is where the Arctic Monkeys come in. Think of Whatever People Say I Am… as the viewpoint of Richard Hawley in his younger days when “our clothes were so wild,” or even of the protagonists of Pulp’s “Joyriders” grown up; although the latter is unlikely, given that Alex Turner is the son of two teachers (note that Jarvis’ mother is also a teacher). So we can conclude that the exasperated sigh, which could only be borne out of love, that he offers in the direction of his friends at the end of the album’s closer “A Certain Romance,” is benevolent but also the sign of someone who knows that he has to flee this landscape quickly rather than slowly (“But you just can’t get angry with them in the same way”) for he has already seen the same scene perpetrated by those he doesn’t know (“broken bones”). Consider the white-shirted gentleman (already pinpointed as The Enemy by Pulp on “Mis-Shapes”) on the album cover, smirking as he smokes a cigarette; then cut to the CD illustration of a gigantic ashtray filled with butts; and finally to the rear cover with the same man wiping his eyes with his right hand, still clutching the cigarette – and is he crying?

Much has already been made of the notion that the Arctic Monkeys represent a new peak in mish-mash of elements of the unlived-through ‘80s. Actually there are several seldom-revisited elements of ‘80s music in their work, and by that I mean elements which maybe aren’t revisited enough. On one side, there is that uniquely stubborn, and now nearly forgotten, faction of guitar pop which briefly came to the fore in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, exemplified by the likes of the Wonder Stuff, Kingmaker, Cud and Leatherface (with the same treble-heavy drums). That in itself is a quadrant of music which I rarely, if ever, am tempted to sample again in the 21st century. But where and how the Arctic Monkeys make it curiously work is that they fuse these elements to approaches and tactics which seem to have been learned from forward-looking American guitar rock of the late ‘80s. Specifically, side one of Whatever People Say I Am… might well be the British Surfer Rosa we’ve been awaiting these last eighteen years; six songs which come in, flash and exit quickly, but always with proportion and areas of unexpected deviations – the way in which they seem to abandon “The View From The Afternoon” halfway through and restart it again, but more obliquely, makes me think of, say, Blind Idiot God attempting Coltrane’s “Alabama” (which original recording, you may remember, similarly stops halfway through one take and restarts with a second, neither half quite fitting with the other), not to mention the way in which they frequently take a song down to its end, with a modest George Harrison major-sixth flourish, rather than batter their way to a climax, and seem to know enough about group dynamics to alter their intensity when the song emotionally requires it – thus the very noticeable guitar reinforcements which separate the “San Francisco/Hunter’s Bar” and “New York/Rotherham” lines of “Fake Tales Of San Francisco,” and the shattering hammering coda of “Expressions! On! Their! Stu! Pid! Faces!” which ends “You Probably Couldn’t See For The Lights But You Were Staring Straight At Me” (very 1987 SST, those titles). These exercises alternate with a kind of running plot which involves Turner standing, petrified, in a club, looking at the intended Other but scared shitless of approaching her. So the bemused cry of “1984” at which “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” peaks denotes, not condemnation of her ‘80s electropop fixation (and she’s probably dancing to Laura Branigan’s “Self Control”), but desperation to get involved. Similarly, while more than enough has been said of Turner’s very pronounced Rotherham accent, his voice reminds me, of all people, of a young Bowie – listen to how he sings “You’ve seen your future bride” or “you sexy little swine” on “Dancing Shoes.”

Sometimes, though, Turner can tend towards Gallagherism, usually when he’s got his ire up. On the otherwise thoughtful side two, the most ostensibly adventurous song, “Perhaps Vampires Is A Bit Strong But..” sees him roar “Your stories are stale!” in an otherwise rather unworthy potshot at record company types, bandwagon latecomer “fans” and so forth. Coupled with the track’s slightly overdone attempts at eclecticism – taking in everything from bebop to arsequake to Britfunk, and coming across as a curious fusion of the Higsons, Big Flame and fIREHOSE (with a hefty dollop of Black Flag circa My War thrown in towards the end), it nevertheless raises the slight suspicion of a portentous, self-righteous second album whose subject matter would be the impact aroused by its predecessor. That is a trap which they will need to work hard to avoid (I also note the similarly over-defensive comment on the sleeve: “They can all say what they want now but they’ll never do what we’ve done.” Or you could see that as a simple continuation of the plea to be left alone in peace familiar from the sleeve of Different Class – whose bleakly comedic song-by-song photography is echoed strongly in the CD booklet of Whatever People Say I Am…- “Please understand. We don’t want no trouble. We just want the right to be different. That’s all”).

Throughout side two in general, however, the Arctic Monkeys demonstrate a pleasing flexibility (when set against the stark stolidity of so much contemporary British guitar music) with frequent dub-like dropouts and a superb telepathy in particular with the rhythm section – bassist Andy Nicholson is especially impressive; note for instance his raised eyebrow flourish which closes “From The Ritz To The Rubble.” Also, very cleverly, given the “Roxanne” reference in “When The Sun Goes Down,” the song propels itself forward in a manner very similar to the early, hungry Police (Matt Helders could almost be Stewart Copeland here), yet it’s a Police song parenthesised by a balladic muse worthy of Half Man Half Biscuit. And, like the Police, the Arctic Monkeys are the kind of group which only really makes sense when they are number one in the charts – even a wretched middle-aged instinctive sceptic like me was impressed by their appearance (though it was a transposed live clip) on TOTP performing “Dancefloor.” It really did seem like samizdat bootleg footage – so clandestine-looking, as if somehow it hadn’t been planned for them to be number one, ahead of the briskly clean pop which comprised the rest of that week’s top ten. As with the video for “Message In A Bottle” a quarter of a century earlier – performed, lest we forget, by another group generally scoffed at as a bunch of ambulance chasing chancers – the spectacle once again became all, and consumed all.

More impressive, though, is how adept they are at turning the volume down on their music when the songs demand it. Thus side two’s opening gambits of “Riot Van” and “Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured” (you don’t have to put on that red light!) act as a painfully necessary counterbalance to “I Predict A Riot.” Where the latter song chooses to highlight its targets as unsubtle signifiers – you can almost hear Ricky Wilson’s stick hitting the blackboard as he ticks off all the contenders (“HIT BY A POLICEMAN!…MAN IN A TRACK SUIT ATTACKED ME!”), “Riot Van” and “Red Light” are resigned observances of things seen from the inside (“cou’n’t give a toss” as the would-be rioter is bundled into the van and gets the shit kicked out of him). Even the taxi rank scrap reappears in “Red Light” – “Calm down! Temper, temper! Young people get so angry!” – but the protagonist is far more worried about having to pay £2.50 when “you’ve only gone about a yard.” Sometimes Turner takes a surprisingly moral tone – he criticises taxi drivers (“He didn’t have to be rude!”) and bouncers (“Why can’t they be pleasant?”), not to mention the “scummy man” who regularly uses prostitutes in “When The Sun Goes Down” and the same song’s concerned codicil of “I hope you’re not involved” – he almost outdoes Tony Christie in the Politely Outraged From Sheffield stakes!

Best of all, perhaps, are the weary love/hate song “Mardy Bum,” which sounds very much like Morrissey, but with an openness and genuine closeness from which Morrissey generally tends to swerve away in his own songs; I can’t imagine him coming up with a couplet as plaintive as “Remember cuddles in the kitchen – oh! – just to get things off the ground,” especially not when coupled with the lovelorn fatigue of the way in which Turner sings the word “argumentative” in a basso not quite profundo and the band leans in with him, all the better to listen to him; and the aforementioned closer “A Certain Romance” which the group clearly intended to be their epic “I Am The Resurrection”/”Slide Away”-style album climax but which trumps both because, instead of going for the candle and fist waving which the frantic guitar forays at the song’s beginning seem to indicate, the Arctic Monkeys instead opt for a semi-jaunty skank, with chord changes descending straight out of Gracie Fields, as Turner turns the eye of his telescope towards the Sheffield of 2006, sees the hurt and the grime in full close-up but can’t help loving the place and the people he knows there, even if in the end he’ll have to get a hundred miles away from it to love it, and them, all the more fully.

Thus you see how the Fiona Apple lyric I quoted last week apropos this record was not a condemnation of it, but rather a reflection of the very thing which it is condemning. And I hope that the somewhat cautious and tentative tone of this review might do more proper service to the music, as it has been an attempt, not to analyse how the Arctic Monkeys got here, but rather what the Arctic Monkeys are getting at. On an emotional level I think I still prefer Coles Corner as a representative portrait of the Sheffield of now – Richard Hawley is, after all, more or less my age, and there are things, words and emotions in his music which only experience can make accessible – but I find myself going back to Whatever People Say I Am… more and more, not for analysis, but for daft pleasure. Which is as it should be.

(And here’s an incidental closing thought for you: nothing against the anti-popists’ favourite pop star, Ariel Pink, but doesn’t “I Wait For Kate” sound to its bones like a 1983 Pulp demo? Note: in the world of The Church Of Me, this officially qualifies as No Bad Thing)


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