Thursday, 2 August 2007

Slack Jaw

'You're walking down the street you've walked down a million times before. But this time you're in a musical. These trees and houses are too beautiful to be real. This pavement seems built for dancing on.'

I was thinking of doing all the rest of Science & Nature in one go. But on balance it makes more sense to spread it out. It will balance out all of the 'meh' new album entries nicely in tone and ease of writing, for a start.
'Cos I sure love Science & Nature. I got Expecting To Fly first and related to its dumped dejection a lot more easily at the time, but it's still Science & Nature that I've always liked best, that is the one album that I most often (secretly) think it makes no sense that anyone can not love this. The fact that so few do, even among the band's fans, was a pretty crucial factor in making that secretly, getting me to the realisation that taste is not some objective criteria where I'm right and those who disagree have all missed the memo.

I don't even just love the music. Those lines at the top of this entry aren't lyrics. They're from the long, touching stream of consciousness like poem that sits underneath the CD in the album case, which I love as much as everything else about this album. The story seems to follow the sequence of the 11 songs, though where one ends and the next begins is blurred at times. And here it's going to do half my job for me. It nails what the song does perfectly, in that in its short three minutes not much actually happens (at least in narrative terms) but it feels like an enormity.
'It was a month and a day, It seems a lifetime away, When we first met in town and spent a night. We drank and we talked until the music was stopped, And the barman came and turned back on the light We arranged again to meet And as I walked off down the street I swear that I felt ten feet tall'

That's all there is to it as far as the happy side goes. But delivered with a grin that's practically tagible, and backed by the build up of a heady, folksy hoedown, it captures the buzz and elation of love first realised perfectly. The steady, simple shake at the beginning of the lines is rejoined by the drum thump of the songs intro and then an increasingly complex rhythm that's like the backing dancers from that personal musical stepping into place behind.
And somehow, even the twist in the tale, the girl not returning his calls, does nothing much to change that buzz. Even the bitter jibe within ('One day when you're ancient, preparing for another lonely night') seems infected by the warmth of memories. Trying to hide it just brings it through louder - "Slack Jaw" believes in 'better to have loved and lost' with all its heart and makes it bloody difficult to argue with.

mp3: Slack Jaw (Evening Session version)

3 comments:

Chris Brown said...

I remember reading at the time the album came out that they claimed to have recorded one of the songs outdoors, and I think it may have been this one (hence the background noise). Whether it's true or not I'm less sure.
I like the track anyway, there's something in the oddness of the structure that's charming. That's presumably Richard Payne on accordion.

As for the album in general, I found that I didn't really get it until I taped it and listened on headphones, which I suppose says something about the production. Or about my ears.

Iain F said...

Yes, without listening to it again I can't think of any of the other songs that would have been outdoors. Last Of The Great Navigators might have made sense but doesn't sound like it.

Much more on the roles of Richard Payne and the production to come in future Science & Nature entries!

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