Friday, November 19, 2010

Pitchfork: Album Reviews: Orange Juice: Coals to Newcastle

I don't know, maybe some legendary but unheard bands should stay that way. I'm no expert on Orange Juice, but I'm sympathetic to their influence. Unfortunately, there's no getting around the fact early tracks like this are sort-of, kind-of, lame:

First off, Edwyn Collins is Rick Astley-esque with the hair, the attitude, the shirt. There's no getting around that. It also doesn't help that this particular video comes from the school of aspirational silliness, which is to say, hey, we're playing music in the TARDIS, life ain't that bad. Things aren't so hard. We're young, you're old, and the world will be ours. Here goofy disregard for convention trumps angry attack.

So post-punk is or was anti-punk, and about as confrontational and non-comformist as retro-preppy Vampire Weekend singing songs for faux-preppy Tommy Hilfiger. In this case the band goofs around city streets, wears white trousers and Hawaiian shirts in the cold Scottish rain, and somehow manages to embody the very essence of preppy funsterism. Forced fun is usually no fun at all, and in this case the target of their fun, the "documentary" footage of drab UK life, looks amazing, and outshines all of the 80s-isms. Just look at those gray streets and those dark, serious citizens of collapsing empire. It oddly fascinates.

On the positive side, there's a nifty little guitar bit that underpins the whole track and which will eventually find its apotheosis in INXS's "Need You Tonight". If you don't like that, then there's no hope. And if nothing else the catchiness of the guitar bit hints at as-yet unrealized talent. There's more going on here than meets the eye.

As for Edwyn Collins, we'll always have 1994: