The Hang of Music: No Peace for the Wicked
Right, gonna be some changes in a bit, after this set is over. As it is, I know I’ve been pretty unreliable about deadlines. But it will all make sense soon.
Until then, enjoy me talking about The Only Ones’ eponymous first album, and take this opportunity to listen to “Another Girl, Another Planet” again.
Oh, sweet music.In these reviews, here is where I usually talk about some of the history of the band; previous work that I like, stuff that I find interesting, etc. I know I do – I’ve started to come up with a formula that I direly try to ignore and avoid at the same time. Tricky. But here, I’m gonna be honest; I’m only here for Godzilla.
And by Godzilla, I mean “Another Girl, Another Planet”. You all know the song well enough – and if you don’t, find it now – to tell that it’s a really good song for a number of reasons.
Reasons which I won’t go into, because frankly, I feel it’s a waste of my time. You should have all heard the bleeding song already! You should all have your own opinions! I, on the other hand, should be here to tell you about all of the other, less obscenely over-played songs on this album. The ones that you don’t know about yet.
So, what do I think of those songs? Well, if I were to splurge my thoughts out all at once, this review would be over pretty quick, now wouldn’t it? (Though as I’m already late, might that be a bad thing?) But yeah, they’re good. Usually I find that the songs I listen to for these reviews are quite difficult on their first listen, even if they themselves are very enjoyable. But these are all very instantly enjoyable pop fare.
So what’s my problem? Well, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to go for more of a whole album feel with these reviews, talking about the album as a whole rather than tracks in specific. And it’s helped that the last couple I’ve talked about were complete thingies. But this is not possible with this album. They are far too fragmented. And this isn’t a criticism of “The Only Ones – TANTB”* per se, but I don’t really feel this is a viable route here and now. The album is too fragmented.
The variation is good. I like that some songs are downbeat, some have bluesy/jazzy intros (“Breaking Down”) and others are straight up punk songs (“Language Problem”). But I kind of think, for all the goodness of the songs, the album doesn’t hold together.
This is not to say that I can’t make any cross-song-comparisons.
One thing is pretty consistent, though. The lyrics never go much further up on the happy chart than “cynically content”. This high point is “Another Girl”, whereas “No Peace For The Wicked” marks the opposite pole, reaching heights of self-pity only celebrity autobiographies can match. It’s almost joyous in the way it revels in sadness, in some ways a little like…
OK, I get to make a Smiths reference. I always like that. When they’re glad, they’re very very mellow, but when they’re sad they’re Morrissey. Truly, I’d usually expect you to be a “nu metal” act to think the world is being that unfair to you.
One of the bands strengths is, I have to say, their use of two guitars. I know that SO MANY BANDS use two guitars that it’s become the industry standard, and I personally dislike the form. This is mainly because bands don’t know how to use it well, and just use the second guitar to hammer out more volume and more of the same power chords. Some bands get it, some bands don’t.
The Only Ones get it. Significantly different guitar parts, designed to sound good when played in time with each other rather than alone? Good. Solo guitar used to emphasise the vocals? Yes. All of my “yes”!
So why couldn’t they do the same with the keyboards? Hell, three of the band are listed as playing keyboard – you’ve no excuse! They’re barely there, and barely audible unless you really listen out.
But these are tiny little problems. Whiny lyrics are common as all hell, keyboards are unimportant, and album cohesion is a luxury. The point is that all the songs are enjoyable in their own right, and the album is worth a couple of listens at least. And compared to all I’d heard of theirs before – a compilation album called “Why Don’t You Kill Yourself?” – this is sooo much better. This is why I only listen to full studio albums and not singles/compilations.
But even were any of this not true, were the album no good at all, this album is worth it for “Another Girl, Another Planet”. I mean that in a good way; the rest of the songs are good in their own right, but they’re elevated by “Another Girl”, and their admittedly minor flaws are washed away, until you and I are The Only Ones Who Know.
Wait, the album ends with the band actually exploding from rocking too hard? Subtle, guys.
* “The Album, Not The Band”. I hate eponymous album titles – they suck massively. If only I was allowed to judge the quality of the album solely based on whether or not itwas an eponymous first album, my job would be a lot easier, and I would have missed some really good albums.