The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'alexis petridis'
The Graun's Alexis Petridis is not impressed with the new Primal Scream album:
More baffling is the decision to foreground the vocals and lyrics of Bobby Gillespie. Never the highlight of any Primal Scream album, here they're inescapable: he is, as a rapper would say, all up in your grill. There's the usual torrent of drug-related cliches - "I stuck a needle in my baby's heart, she looked so hot and sexy," offers Gillespie, who is 46 years old - but the real problems come when he abandons the platitudes about junkies and veins and offers us something of himself, chiefly his famous political acumen. He has a tendency to address listeners as the lobotomised drones of the capitalist system. That sort of thing got a bit wearying coming from Crass, who were at least committed anarchists, squatting in an open house commune and apparently unable to play live without attracting unwanted police attention. Coming from Primal Scream, who are none of those things, but have been heard advertising everything from cars to clothes to Carphone Warehouse, it sounds, at best, pathetic. "Take a drive around the city, tell me what do you see? Empty houses, burning cars, naked bodies hanging from a tree," opens the title track, thus begging the question: where have you seen this, exactly? In Islington, where you live? No wonder property prices in N1 have levelled off.
At worst, however, it's genuinely insulting. "Congratulations, you live in a dream, in the dead heart of the control machine," sneers Gillespie, a man recently spotted confronting the grimy day-to-day reality of life on society's margins by attending the Mayfair launch of a $250,000 diamond and sapphire-encrusted ice dagger designed by Jade Jagger for use in the world's most exclusive bars, including Crystal, the London nightclub run by Prince William's Eton pal Jacobi Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe. He was probably there plotting the downfall of the dead-hearted control machine with his fellow guests, including noted revolutionary Marxists Alexa Chung and Davina Taylor. These are hardened insurrectionists, who, like Gillespie, know that there can be no social justice until the gutters run red with bourgeois blood. "We've got a noose if you want to hang around," he jeers, "maybe some torture to tousle your hair."In my opinion, Primal Scream appear to be a textbook example of Thatcherism-Blairism as an artistic ideology, a Hegelian synthesis of (the superficial aspects of) bolshy anti-capitalist agitation of the Thatcher era and the whorish mercantility of the Blairite marketing society, a culture, nay, a civilisation built entirely on appropriating and repackaging. And Primal Scream do it well; moving at the speed of spin from trend to trend (from NIN-lite industrial rock to meat-and-potatoes blues-rock that sounds like the Rolling Stones if they instructed their engineer to overcompress everything into a black blob of loudness to the ubiquitous vapid cod-Marxism that makes Sid Vicious look like George Monbiot by comparison), never making the mistake of investing enough of themselves in any one thing to miss the next shift in market research. Soon enough, listeners realise that they've been sold a turd in a can, but by then they've moved on to the next thing.
The Graun's Alexis Petridis is unimpressed with the new CSS album, finding that the formerly chaotic Brazilian band has turned into an inoffensively generic commercial-indie-by-numbers act, its former appealing oddness—and indecorous language—ruthlessly eradicated in the pursuit of homogeneity:
Often, Donkey sounds like someone has tracked down the anonymous session musicians who spent the 1970s knocking out polite covers of chart hits for budget-priced Top of the Pops compilation albums and got them to have a stab at replicating CSS's sound. It couldn't seem less incongruous than when flashes of the old sharp CSS attitude occasionally appear on the album, marooned over their new rounded-off sound. "I'm gonna drink 'til I pass out, I'm gonna jump on the table and dance my ass off 'til I die," sings Lovefoxxx on Left Behind, sounding more like a woman who's already got her dressing gown on and is checking the Sky+ programme planner to see what time Midsomer Murders starts.
Perhaps it has something to do with the way CSS have been received, particularly in the UK. As with Björk, despite the critical plaudits and high rankings on style mag cool lists, there's a touch of Clive James chuckling affectionately at the Japanese on Endurance about people's reaction to CSS: look at the crazy foreigners with their funny clothes and pidgin English song titles. You get the sense that the band's members occasionally feel they're being patronised. Shortly before her recent departure from the band, bassist Ira Trevisan told one journalist she was sick of being asked about their "Brazilian heritage", adding: "It would be good if we were Belgian." There's a sentence you don't hear every day. Maybe the idea is to prove they have more in common with their European peers than they do with their native forebears, to make music to which no one could append the word "wacky", but it's hard not to feel that becoming as boring as your average British indie band is a pretty extreme way of avoiding the odd question about Tropicalia.
The debut album from Paris Hilton, icon of our times and/or unjustifiable waste of oxygen, is out, and the Graun's Alexis Petridis is having a hard time restraining his glee:
"I know music," she reassured the Sunday Times children's section. "I hear it every single day." While this obviously gives Hilton a massive advantage over those who have never heard any music and thus believe it to be a variety of cheese, there remains the nagging suspicion that this might not represent sufficient qualification for a career as a singer, in much the same way as knowing what a child is does not fully equip you for a career as a consultant paediatrician.
Understandably, those behind Hilton's debut album have left little to chance, employing a vast team of crack producers and songwriters. Some decisions regarding membership of said team seem a little baffling - when Hilton's record label decided a reggae track "would be a really good fit", they naturally called songwriter Shep Solomon, famed for mashing up Kingston dancehalls with militant Rastafarian collective S Club 7 and ragga's Queen of Slackness Natalie Imbruglia - but you can't argue with its hit-making pedigree.
But as Turn It Up cranks into life, you realise why Hilton felt it necessary to confirm to the Sunday Times that she knew what music was. She sings like a woman who has heard of something called singing, can't be sure of exactly what it might entail, but is fairly certain you do something a bit like this. She sounds both distracted and bored stiff, as if making an album is keeping her from the more serious business of standing around a nightclub in a pair of really enormous sunglasses.
On Stars Are Blind, the combination of tinny cod-reggae and your-call-is-being-held-in-a-queue vocal technique results in something so plasticky, it's perversely enjoyable. Elsewhere, Hilton's audible lack of interest torpedoes her own chances. Someone has encouraged her to make erotically charged squeals of affirmation and panting noises, with deleterious results. "Yah! Uh-huh-huh! Yah!" she huffs, like a Sloane Ranger having an asthma attack.From its description, the album sounds predictably bad; the natural product of an "artist" who epitomises content-free, vacuous celebrity. It'll be interesting to see how it will be received. Will it sink without a trace, with entire boxes of excess stock ending up in landfills? Will it, come December 2009, end up on lists of least essential albums of the decade? Or will it rise above obscurity? Will it be adopted ironically as a bulldada classic, a sort of musical equivalent of Showgirls, or will the poptimist tendency, always eager to repudiate rockism and indie snobbery, embrace its sugar-slick production values and professional songwriting in a completely unironic sense?
As the Brit Awards drop the "Best Dance Act" category (recently won by bubblegum girl group Sugababes), replacing it with "Best Live Act" (it looks like rock stars are the new superstar DJs), the Graun's Alexis Petridis reports the decline of dance music as a genre:
Part of the problem, whatever anybody claims, was that the dance scene was entirely bound up with drugs. That meant that it had a short shelf-life for most participants: you simply can't keep taking ecstasy every weekend for more than a few years, and when the shine comes off the ecstasy experience, then the shine invariably comes off dance music as well. That wasn't a problem, as long as there was a high turnover of new initiates, all figuratively staggering out of Margate pier at six in the morning, convinced they had just discovered the future of music. But at some point around the millennium, that simply stopped happening.
In other words, rave culture had the dynamics of a pyramid scheme.
The longest lingering big fashion movement in club culture was the cyber-kids, who congregated around Sheffield club Gatecrasher. Their look seemed to involve adopting every daft passing fad that had ever taken hold on a dancefloor at once: they wore fluorescent clothes and face paint, sprayed their hair with garish crazy colour, sucked children's dummies, carried cuddly toys. Gatecrasher's management eventually attempted to stop them coming to the club, but the damage was done. For your average 16-year-old, the choice was fairly stark: you could either dress like a rapper or one of the Strokes and be in with a chance with the opposite sex, or you could dress like an imbecile and go clubbing.