The Hang of Music: Just the One
… Is it pronounced “zite-giest”, or “zeet-geest”? I lean towards the former, but I’m still uncertain.
Whichever it is, it is “Zeitgeist”, this week’s album, provided to us by Levellers.
No, I don’t know who they are either. I feel I may go out of my way to listen to new music too much, and am setting my mind up to be so open that my brain falls out. Because I decided to listen to this when I picked it out, at random, from my Dad’s CD collection. Which is itself a big collection. But I digress.
The opening is like whiplash – it fucking surprised me, and almost hurt. Maybe emotional whiplash. It certainly didn’t help that I was turning round as I turned the album on first time. The opening track, “Hope Street”, isn’t exactly jarring, but it’s not much further than a bike ride away. And I’m sure that (I hope that) jarring is what they were going for, considering how unhappy the song is. In terms of hopelessness and finger pointing, it’s up there with Frank Turner.
The album picks up pretty much immediately with a more upbeat if just as sad song (with an awesome guitar riff) called “The Fear”. Really good. It’s pretty stripped down, but there’s still enough going on for it to work. Folky, but not quite. Dancey, but not quite.
In many ways, the blend of pop and folk here reminds me a bit of Idlewild. That’s hardly surprising, considering how they both hail from the same sort of neck of the 90s. I’m a little less uncertain about Levellers, though.
My favourite lyric of the album?
“And the sentiment of the last song that I heard
Stays with me as if I’d written every word”
“Saturday To Sunday”
Not necessarily because it’s a great line, but because it’s one of those things where I heard it, and suddenly I remembered that feeling. Especially, but not exclusively when drunk, as that is the situation that the song is talking about. I bet good money that you recognise it too.
Some of the other lyrics are not quite so good. Most of them are pretty good, discussing mental illness, alcoholism and the plans you make when you’re pished off your face. But the rest of Saturday to Sunday, for example, is full of a load of other poetic nonsense.
“And there are the days and the ways I’ve known
Dreaming that this bird has flown”
“Saturday to Sunday”
You see? Maybe I’m being too harsh, though.
Going back to songs about getting a bit tiddly, I think that one day I’m going to compile a list, or better yet a playlist, of all the songs I can find about alcoholism. They’re one step less ubiquitous than songs about unrequited love. This doesn’t at all mean they are as annoying in their ubiquity, though. I think that “Just the One” may go up there with “Flash Company” for actually handling the societal aspects of it so well.
In terms of musicianship, the singer’s got quite a good voice. Some of the vocals remind me of Show of Hands, which is a good thing on its own. The guitar has some tasty riffs (see “The Fear” above, as well as “4AM” and “Fantasy”), as does the bass (again, “Fantasy”). And there is a violin. That is one of my requirements for a good song – I’m a sucker for a bit of violin.
I think that’s this covered. I only wish that I could find something more negative to say about an album I essentially picked at random. If I can hardly find a bad word to say about such an album, I worry for my membership to the Angry and Prematurely Old Society (APrOS). Maybe I should just focus on being funny as well as positive.
Or maybe I should just go focus on learning how to play “The Fear”. If you’ll excuse me…
P.S. Wow, a post without footnotes. That’s a first, I’m pretty sure.