Tag Archives: new york

Interpol – Their undoing

At the apogee of the post-punk revival, you’d have been sensible in assuming that Interpol could reasonably expect to win big. With two albums under their belt, each with one foot on critical acclaim and the other on a reasonable level of commercial success, the band penned a doubtless lucrative contract with Capitol/Parlophone and so began the logical next step in their career, on a major label.

Paul Banks, Interpols resolutely miserable frontman

Except, showboating their new riches, they then made an embarrassingly mediocre album – Our Love To Admire. This major-label debut boasted all kinds of studio gimmickry (the synthesised oboe solo in “Pioneer To The Falls” springs instantly to mind), complicated song structures (I don’t think they’ll be repeating the reverse-vocal passage in “Wrecking Ball” any time soon), and the sticky production fingers of Rich Costey, who had at the time triumphantly helmed the production of Muse’s Black Holes And Revelations. Two things that the album lacked, however, were the tunes, and the cool. Our Love To Admire wasn’t filled to the brim with genuinely bad songs (though I’ll gladly bestow that accolade on “Rest My Chemistry”); the problem derived more from the fact that too many of the songs were bland, cheesy, forgettable and… uncool.

There, I said it. Somewhere along the line, between touring in support of Antics and the tortured gestation of Our Love…, Interpol wound up losing their cool. Where previously Paul Banks traded in a kind of lovably abstract circumlocution, now his lyrics were just plain wince-inducing. Where before Daniel Kessler had woven intriguing guitar-based journeys between the chords of songs, he now beat a sledgehammer through songs with over-processed, over-compressed textures. In an act of brutal criminality, Interpol forgot that it was their rhythm section that had made the band, downplaying at their peril Carlos Dengler‘s elastic disco basslines and Sam Fogarino‘s tricksy stickwork.

The closing track on Antics was, as far as I can make out, about a father and son arguing on a boat, Talented Mr. Ripley-style, written from the point of view of a sea urchin.

Track two on Our Love To Admire was about wanting a threesome to rescue your relationship.

Lucky, then, that for album number four, sophisticated Paul has showed up for the lyrics workshop, dispelling the tired rockstar clichés that so plagued its predecessor. But does the music match the lyrical and thematic intrigue?

Well, not quite. For one thing, the band appear to have developed a taste for some pretty unfashionable techniques, possibly taken from an instruction manual for a previous version of Rich Costey. So we get heaps of multi-tracked vocals tackling every possible harmony; oddly jarring drum machines in place of Sam Fog’s natural talent; synthesised orchestral arrangements floating on scummy washes of guitar. So far, so uncool.

There are songs that try and serve up the band’s former breed of choppy post-punk, like “Success” and lead single “Barricade”. These would be fine, if a bit derivative, except that they manage to sound at the same time laboured and skew-whiff. This is Type 1 Uncool: Forgivably uncool.

Then there are songs that try and improve upon the atmospherics of the previous album, shoehorning in lounge piano and tepid string arrangements and god-knows-what-else. The finale, entitled “The Undoing”, sees Paul Banks pleading with a Spanish version of himself. Toy Story 3, this is not. Songs like this, and also “Try It On” are Type 2 Uncool: Look Away Now, Modestly, Before They Attempt Something Even More Foolish.

Though I haven’t given this album up for dead yet, there is a line of criticism about Interpol so spot on I feel further analysis is possibly redundant. In the words of Dan Nishimoto, writing for Prefix Magazine,

Where they used to sound like the crackling of a subway car rounding a bend or the seediest alleys of New York in the pre-dawn hours, here they sound like alt-rock renderings of what moody post-punk is supposed to sound like.

Bands usually self-title their albums to set out their position. If it’s a debut, this is the band’s pocket-sized introduction of what to expect from them in the coming years (or, in the modern age, the coming fortnight, while their hype-inflated worth is still riding high on Twitter). If it’s an album later in the band’s career, this suggests a definitive account with subtle reinvention, as if this is from where future listeners should draw a template. If this was Interpol’s ambition, then I am tempted to say Carlos Dengler was justified in walking away from the band as soon as the album was completed, so that he does not feature in such a template.

And this wasn’t even supposed to be a review of the album.


Vampire Weekend – Contra (Mk. II)

Yes, I’m back. I couldn’t really keep away from this intriguing little album for much longer. In fact, I’ll probably end up writing a third (and final!) review of Contra as a kind of blog-exclusive. The micro-review below is to be printed in next week’s PartB culture supplement of my university newspaper, The Beaver. Enjoy!

What I really loved about Vampire Weekend was its fusing of catchy pop music, subtle world influences, and some seriously smart lyrics about “college” life. It was the great unifying soundtrack to my first year at university, depicting the perfect, globe-trotting lives of four Ivy Leaguers while I stumbled drunkenly around rainy, gloomy London. That their critiques of privileged youth appropriating distant cultural trends were misinterpreted as somehow endorsing colonialism was bizarre – as anyone who listened properly to “Oxford Comma” would know, Ezra Koenig wasn’t so much flaunting his knowledge of punctuation as criticising that kind of pedant.
Anyway, now they’re back, with the knowingly titled Contra – a wink and a nod to The Clash, and we’re off, with the starry-eyed vocals and thumb piano of “Horchata”, a song that rhymes aforesaid milky drink with “balaclava” and “aranciata”. Cheeky bugger. The next song, “White Sky”, melds the chirpiness of the band’s debut with a new-found love of synthesiser bleeps and beats, no doubt informed by producer-at-large Rostam Batmanglij’s side-project Discovery.

At this point, the most noticeable change in direction exhibited on Contra must be brought to the fore – namely, the sense of sadness and regret that tinges large swathes of the album. This is not such an upbeat album as even a song like “Holiday” would suggest: where cheeky verses once practically fell into rousing choruses, now the default setting is slightly detuned synths and pitter-patter beats. It’s certainly less baroque, as the AutoTuned dancehall of “California English” and the ambitious, sample-heavy “Diplomat’s Son” will testify.

The second noteworthy progression on Contra is, unsurprisingly, in the lyrics. Vampire Weekend was very much an album about campus life; Contra is all about this same set of Ivy League types graduating, inheriting the earth, and now re-evaluating their place in society. So, relationships crumble, and tales of distant shores are nostalgic and wistful. Which, all told, is probably a good thing, because I don’t think another thirty-six minutes of cold professors studying romances, and Blake, with his new face, would have washed with Vampire Weekend’s more astute listeners. Contra is a subtle, limbering creature; less catchy and celebratory; more reflective and critical in its aesthetic and lyrical bent.

My novel of the decade

In considering my favourite novel of the noughties, it was perhaps inevitable that my mind should alight immediately upon a weighty work that captures the inescapable sense of disappointment that has epitomised this decade. I am, to those who know me, an arch miserablist, especially when it comes to cultural matters, and what really impresses me about my chosen piece of fiction is that, despite it being released back in 2001, it succeeded in foretelling much of the misery and broken dreams that would go on to characterise this period of time. Technology has made islands of us all; consumerist demands have ruptured families like only civil wars previously could; our ageing population gets away with bad decisions; an increasingly strained youth must pick up the inevitable cost. For me, only one novel has dealt with these issues in a compelling manner.

Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, as endorsed by New Yorker readers and Oprah Winfrey viewers alike, takes a group of people with a vague semblance to the traditional family unit, drags them into the twenty-first century, and catalogues the ensuing multi-generational, globe-spanning saga in a vibrant, sparky style that veers into the surreal but never escapes from its grounding in black comedy, tinged with sadness and regret. The Corrections follows the Lamberts – a Midwestern family spanning three generations, blighted by Parkinson’s and dementia (Alfred, the father of the family), marital constraints (Edith, Alfred’s long-suffering wife), consumerist demands (Gary, the eldest son, a successful banker), and failed romance (both Denise and Chip, the other two children, suffer from this). Though their lives are plotted along increasingly disparate vectors, Edith is determined to re-unite the family for what may be their final Christmas together – Alfred’s ailments seeming increasingly terminal.

Franzen doesn’t make it easy for us to like his characters. He doesn’t even make it easy to like his style of writing – numerous friends of mine have given up after the opening chapter, which refers to a silent alarm bell signalling the ever-present state of panic at the heart of the dying couples that inhabit small Midwestern towns. All of the Lamberts are blessed with loveable qualities, but each worsens their situation by dint of their more screwed-up character flaws, making it tough to sympathise with them. At the same time, we see that they are, at heart, good people, screwed over by modern society which, for one reason or another, they cannot adapt to. It is there in Denise’s bizarre relationships which challenge our perceptions of sexuality and the ease with which we can just fall in love. It is present too in Alfred’s undoubted intelligence, which is kept at bay by an inability to express modern values. The Corrections is a deeply unhappy novel about our insatiable desire to correct parts of our life – whether through food, people, money, or possessions – and yet it does not posit the strong family as the solution to this unhappiness either.

Franzen’s masterpiece is my novel of the decade not only because of its prescience and thematic weightiness, but also because it’s a thoroughly enjoyable read, written in a hyperthyroid style that flits between made-up science, wry perceptions and social commentary, political discourse, and frequently fascinating, clipped dialogue. If this new decade is to bring us any hope at all, we should endeavour to make it nothing like the world of The Corrections. Which is exactly why everyone should read it.

White goddess, red goddess, black temptress of the sea

In Dan Weiss’s review of Interpol frontman Paul Bank’s forthcoming solo single, “The Fun That We Have”, the writer suggests that while “All the guys fall for the languid Turn On The Bright Lights … the girls I know tend to prefer the blockier Antics.” I may be the exception to the rule, in that I feel there’s a compelling case for suggesting that Antics is the superior album; indeed, that it may be one of those albums that I irrationally associate with ‘perfection’. Other such albums have included, over the years, Tortoise’s TNT, Amon Tobin’s Supermodified, and Massive Attack’s Mezzanine. To this list, I believe we can add Antics, because it succeeds in continuing the importance of mood and atmosphere that Interpol established on their debut, while attaching greater importance on the quality of the songwriting.

Turn On The Bright Lights is an alarmingly accomplished debut: from the very off, its echoey, jangling guitar signal a kind of reflective anxiety and unease that never lets up. Through the elegiac swooning of NYC and the slightly malevolent swagger of PDA, the intricate interplay of guitars provides the ideal counterpoint to the locked-in tautness of the rhythm section. The emotional centre of the album, Hands Away, with its beautiful swells of orchestral slush, is book-ended by two tightly-wound pop songs in Say Hello To Angels and Obstacle 2. The second half of the album finds the band a little in the wilderness, meandering through Stella… and Roland seemingly on autopilot, relying on atmospherics to succeed any boredom. Finally, in the closing brace of The New and Leif Erikson, the band secure their foothold once more with a pair of gorgeous, engaging epics that take unexpected turns and dives. The album is a delicious journey, and I’ve probably done little so far to dispel this suggestion. But, crucially, for me, it provides too few highlights. Taken as a whole, it’s an extremely successful portrait of a city, a culture, a social class. Taken apart, it only really contains one standout track – The New – and the overriding impression of a band reaching out far beyond their limits (which is undoubtedly a good thing) is more than anything else a product of the album’s interstitial outros. Collectively, it’s epic. Singularly, it’s just really good.

Antics, by contrast, announces itself in a considerably more upbeat fashion, with the organ-led swell of Next Exit, and proceeds, over the course of 42 minutes, to never put a foot wrong on the individual level of the song, and indeed the overall texture of the album. It’s both an album of singles, and a single body of an album. The structure and pacing of Turn On The Bright Lights was a loose-limbed thing; Antics follows a much more interesting pattern: the first side consists mainly of snappy, bright pop songs, broken only by the wandering beauty of Take You On A Cruise; the second side, beginning with Not Even Jail, is far more adventurous, with a series of far-reaching performances brought momentarily back to earth by the brief C’mere. As on its predecessor, Antics closes with a stunning couple, with the maximal arrangement of Length Of Love leading beautifully into A Time To Be So Small, which appears to depict a father-and-son argument taking place in a boat, from the point of view of a sea urchin, watching the dispute from the ocean beneath said boat. This is fascinating, far-out stuff, and it’s extraordinary how we never feel a sense of ridicule at being stretched so much by what superficially appears to be a four-piece straight-up post-punk revival.

The reason I think Antics is the better album, then, is because when it sticks to the pop formula, it gets better returns than before, and, when the band take off their dancing shoes and put on their thinking caps, the album’s exploratory epics put just as much experimentation and texture into each song as Turn On The Bright Lights achieved on the whole album. That’s not a criticism of Turn On The Bright Lights, more a satisfying reflection on just how accomplished Antics is. Of particular importance are Take You On A Cruise and Public Pervert. On the former, mournful, bleating pails of guitar and feedback lead masterfully into a an almost mantra-like passage of whispered chanting; on the latter, a simple arpeggiated bassline combines with lilting, tremolo guitar work to set up a raging beast of a song that captures perfectly the feeling of the lyrical refrain “So swoon baby, starry night…” It’s a rare moment of emotional unity on an album otherwise populated by unsettling and macabre imagery, as in the closer’s chorus of “cadaverous mobs”.

Antics is very much the kind of album that, when it recedes into silence at the end, one wants nothing more than to conjure it into being again. It manages to assert a continuous instrumental virtuosity that never ceases to surprise, which, combined with the best collection of lyrics Paul Banks has committed to tape, breaks surprising ground given the band’s sparse set-up. More so than its predecessor, it succeeds not only in the big picture, but also in the minutiæ, and for this, it remains one of the most pristinely unhindered albums I own. I wouldn’t change a single thing.

“We didn’t want to be a hardcore band…”

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s currently an explosion of noisy, reverb-drenched music, paying equal parts homage to My Bloody Valentine as the Shangri-La’s, emanating from New York City. One such exponent, currently reaping the effects of critical acclaim, are Vivian Girls, an all-girl trio based in Brooklyn, who have recently hopped across the pond for a jaunt of gigs at clubs and bars across Europe. The Proud Galleries in Camden was the ideally trendy setting for my encounter with the band.

Though the band have only recently found an audience in Europe, it is immediately clear that they love being on the road. Talkative guitarist Cassie Ramone confirms that they’re “all pretty big fans of travelling”, adding that touring around Europe has been “an amazing experience… tour promoters in Europe are very hospitable.” So much for the food and drink they’re blagging on their travels; what of the crowds’ reaction to their music? The band’s bassist, Kickball Katy, is quick to temper their enthusiasm by noting that “in some cities, it’s been amazing, others it’s been so-so.” Despite this temporary dampener, it is clear that Vivian Girls are a band very much of the moment, whose music should surely find a receptive audience.

What immediately strikes me about their music is the irresistible sense of melody underlying the sometimes chaotic swells of distortion and reverb, and the band are quick to concur: Cassie suggests that “When we first started out, we wanted to be a band that had melodic songs, but they were really fast, and they were also really reverb-heavy.” Comparisons with My Bloody Valentine and C86 bands aside, Vivian Girls are also keen to point out their hardcore roots. Cassie adds that her childhood listening habits featured “A lot of The Wipers, and Dead Moon. But we were also really influenced by hardcore: we just wanted our songs to be really fast.” When I point out that virtually every teenage band starts out wanting to be a hardcore band, and that these roots have never really materialised in their music, which displays considerably more innocence and optimism than the likes of Fugazi or Minor Threat, she explains that “We didn’t want to be a hardcore band, like Minor Threat or anything, but we just wanted to be really fast.” Their eponymous debut, released last year, is a riotous affair, with strangely loping, lilting harmonies bouncing between typically breakneck drumming and shimmering, wall-of-sound guitars.

Inevitably, their sonic palette makes for an appealing live proposition. When I query the band as to their thoughts on playing live, they become wildly enthusiastic. Katy is keen to point out that “it’s really not about recreating the sound on your record. You can interact with the audience, and we’re in that learning-process stage.” The band’s drummer, Ali Koehler, puts forward the idea that “it’s about taking what people feel about the record, and translating that energy into the live experience,” adding that “I don’t think anyone wants to go to a show and just hear a CD – it has to be something else.” When we discuss their downtime interests, it is unsurprising to learn that all three are avid gig-goers, choosing to spend their January off going to “virtually a show every other day.” With their taste for under-the-radar indie bands, like The Beats and Pissed Jeans, one can almost pinpoint Vivian Girls’ geographical location on a map. Says Katy, “We’re all from New Jersey, but me and Cassie live in Brooklyn.” When one considers the wealth of musical talent emerging from Brooklyn neighbourhoods like Williamsburg, it is interesting to hear the actual opinions of the artists as to why the borough has developed such a reputation. Cassie suggests that “New York City is such a diverse, cultural place, that people who are interested in the arts, and different ways of life, just kind of blossom out of one place.”

Just like their neighbours TV On The Radio (whom Katy describes as “awesome live”), Vivian Girls came together in a communal loft environment. Cassie elaborates, “I was living in Brooklyn, and I was hanging out with this group of people, like, my friends. They were living in this warehouse loft space, and I would go there four times a week, and Frankie [the band’s original drummer] lived there too.” Moreover, as she explains, a set of fortuitous circumstances led to all three of the band’s current members colliding together. “My old band had just gone on hiatus, and Frankie didn’t have a band, and she asked me if I wanted to start a band. I was like, yeah, sure! We still needed a bass player, and Katie’s band had gone on hiatus too… and then we just started to play together.” The manner in which all three of the Girls’ sentences trail off at the end is indicative of a misty-eyed joy at the fortune that has befallen them. When founding member Frankie decided to commit to the Crystal Stilts, again, serendipity dealt Vivian Girls an ideal hand: Cassie explains that “The band I’d been on hiatus with was a band with Ali, so when we needed a new drummer, Ali was the first obvious choice.”

Far from being hipster layabouts, Vivian Girls are the spirit of progressive feminism personified (in a good way). All three graduated at exactly the same time, and, though they hold degrees in subjects as varied as German, Physics and Art, the allure of the road was too thrilling to forgo. Cassie admits that “It really was just a lucky timing thing. We started the band when I was a junior at college. And then we were working really hard at it, for like, a year or so, and then when we graduated, it was just like, diving straight into music the whole time.” In spite of their clear intellectual prowess, however, not even the prospect of steady jobs will derail Vivian Girls from their artistic ambitions. “We are going to tour a lot more,” says Katy, “we’re then going to record our second album in March. We’re aiming to release it in September. And then we’re just going to tour, tour and record, tour and record, a lot more. We’re just going to keep going forever!” Ali adds that “We also have our own record label now, so maybe in the future, if we end up touring less, we’re going to put out our best records on it.” When I inquire as to what their future musical directions might be, the responses are somewhat conflicting; nevertheless, they shed light on their deep vein of songwriting talent. Though they are firmly committed to the shimmering guitars and clattering drums of their forebears, Katy also notes that “A lot of people say that there’s more energy live, and we might like to capture that. It might be nice to be more sparse.” Their lyrics, meanwhile, will continue to be about “Relationships, and when they fail,” at which point the band break into peals of laughter. Clearly, their relentless energy doesn’t detract from the undercurrent of teenage angst in their lyrical themes. They also remain fiercely committed to independent ideals: Cassie explains that “it’s like one of our integral moral codes [to stay independent],” adding that “We started out playing punk shows in living rooms,” suggesting that, with their Bikini Kill tattoos, Vivian Girls remain attached to their Riot Grrrl roots, and are fairly unlikely to transform themselves into the next Lady GaGa. When I finish my conversation by asking them their opinions of this new wave of female electro-pop acts, it becomes clear that the pop music is something of an alien world for them. Though they argue that “Anything that gets girls involved with music is good,” Ali concedes that “Lady GaGa’s image is pretty over-sexualised,” the implicit conclusion being that for Vivian Girls, artistic integrity remains paramount.

In the gig that follows our interview, Vivian Girls hold true to their promises, indulging in some jams on several songs, while consistently projecting a raw energy lacking in many of their peers. Throughout, what impresses me most about them is that sweet, wry smile in the corner of all their songs’ mouths – no matter how unorthodox Cassie Ramone’s guitar sound is, she refuses to let it obstruct the band’s essential, primal joy at being young women, forging an independent life in music, thrilled at the prospect of the open road.

You belong: yes, you belong!

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I can’t really believe I haven’t blogged about Hercules And Love Affair yet, particularly since I practically discovered them. Well, almost.

Way back in early September 2007, I decided, on a whim, to pay a visit to the DFA’s Myspace. Not being overly fond of Mr. Murdoch’s social networking empire, I did so warily, mainly in an attempt to see if my favourite label at the time had signed anyone interesting. Pretty much the first thing I heard upon navigating my way there was the sparse and beautiful “Roar”, by Hercules And Love Affair. I had no idea who they were or where they were from, but I knew profoundly from that moment that they were going to be big. There was something ethereal and elusive about the music: the way Antony Hegarty’s breathy moans were encircled by gurgling bass and whirring synths; the locked-in beat that was clearly emanating from a TR-909. It was instantly racy, sensual and, well, pretty gay.

In an interview with Pitchfork, the creative force of the whole escapade, Andy Butler, spoke of visiting a clothes store called Smylon Nylon, where the shopkeeper took great care in choosing the music played in the store. Upon meeting Butler, and noting his conscientious love of the music, he said, “Listen, you’re gay, right? This is your music. This is your history. You should go find this music and play it for people!” It is this feeling of cultural history, and the undiscovered, supposedly tainted, history of gay culture in New York, which imbues virtually all of Hercules & Love Affair’s music. Their eponymous debut, released early last year, not only draws upon several decades of dance music history, but also succeeds in alluding to the societal concerns of Butler, and the scene he tries to represent. In the same interview, Butler recalled that “When making this record Antony always told me that I should draw from my experience and draw from who I am for the lyrics. He said that it’s important to be sincere”, and the thematic concerns in tracks like “Blind” and “Athene” certainly intrigue the listener on a greater level than just the precision and joy of the music. It is a truly important album, in that it brings an oft-forgotten tranche of music and history into a mainstream audience, and with an irresistable sensuality and sense of emotion.

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to catch the band on their all-too-short tour last year (though, judging by their locations, it might not necessarily have been an comfortable experience for an impartial and thematically uninvolved fan). Luckily, they’ve recorded a fantastic session for Pitchfork.tv, which shows just how wonderfully the elastic grooves of the album have been translated into a live setting. With an eight-piece band in front of him (but sadly no appearances from Antony), Andy Butler’s music has taken on a renewed sense of euphoria and nostalgia, albeit at the expense of some of the haunting sorrow and emotional heartbreak that fills a good portion of the album. I can only hope this troupe of performers continues to make such brilliant music.

Riot Grrrls

In just under an hour’s time, I will be interviewing Brooklyn’s wave-making indie trio, Vivian Girls, before their gig at the Proud Galleries in Camden. My dictaphone is ready; my questions are laid out neatly in a notebook; even the regulation checked-shirt has made an appearance: in short, I am majorly charged up in anticipation of what will be my first ever band interview!

The interview and gig will be written up into a lead feature for the student newspaper, but you can rest assured that I’ll also be posting up some thoughts on the evening here on the blog – maybe a photo, if you’re lucky.

If you’ve never heard of Vivian Girls, which is perfectly understandable, they are an all-female band, making shoegazey and reverb-drenched sweet pop songs that have set critics’ eyes alight. They’ve just been touring around Europe, and will be returning to the US next week, continuing the support of their eponymous debut. It’s a good ‘un, and it’s only 25 minutes long! That’s enough for now – I have a train to catch.

Serious funk

I’ve finally got my hands on Talking Heads’ magnum opus, 1980’s Remain In Light, and my god it is funky. The first half of the album is built solely on repeating grooves, over which Byrne sings and mumbles about all manner of emotional and societal disconnection, while atonal squawks and whirring noises swirl around the ether. Many would regard Brian Eno’s great production feat as being U2’s The Joshua Tree – still the only album by said band that I can really palate – but I’d be willing to stake a claim for this masterpiece.

What struck me immediately about the album is just how brash it sounds, despite the sophistication of the music and lyrics lurking beneath. Exploding in with “Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On), the pace and energy never really lets up. What sounds like a modem enters the song halfway through, with a weird, dazzling solo; African percussion fills up all the spare air, creating multiple layers of syncopation; towards the end, Byrne’s vocal tics resemble someone with epilepsy or Tourette’s – behaviour echoed by the frontman in the video for the album’s centrepiece, “Once In A Lifetime”.

The second half of Remain In Light takes on a more chilled-out vibe, using disconcerting washes of synth and discordant brass to create more tension. Finally, in the album’s closer, “The Overload”, we find a strange, Joy Division-inspired funeral march, which crawls at snail’s pace alongside waves of buzzing synth bass and undertones of keyboards. According to the album’s Wikipedia article, “The Overload” was indeed the band’s attempt at replicating the Salford quartet’s enviable sonic aesthetic, without ever having heard any of their music. It’s testament to the band’s songwriting variety and multi-talented instrumentation that the experiment works so well – far from sounding like a novelty party piece, it book-ends the album perfectly, sending a final farewell of anxiety to the listener in much the same way as “Decades” does on Joy Division’s parting shot, Closer.

Remain In Light, then, explores both sides of Talking Heads’ lyrical and musical concerns – it is at times deeply life-affirming; at other moments mid-life-crisis depicting. It is also perhaps the truest example of a collision of black music and white music, created at a time when the two disciplines never felt further apart. In that respect, we must of course thank the pioneering inroads made by Messrs. Byrne and Eno, which led to such a work. Last year, people heard Vampire Weekend and thought of Paul Simon’s Graceland. Though Remain In Light is undoubtedly a darker work than Vampire Weekend, maybe it is the more important antecedent in providing musical inspiration.