Friday, May 30, 2008


Ha, I am going to manage two posts in May! I think one of the reasons for my relatively slow posting rate these days is I'll think, a week after a post, "hmm, I should update TMW,TMW again." And then some part of my mind counts remembering I need to post as having checked that particular thing off of my to-do list... and then a few weeks later I go "oh crap, I never wrote that up, did I?" So apologies for that. We are still going, we will still be finishing off Low's discography, and the RSS feed is probably your feed.

Enough about that. I don't know about you guys, but I'm a pretty big fan of both Joy Division and Wire, and already was when I first picked up Things We Lost in the Fire on that fateful day long ago. I certainly was listening to Closer and 154 a lot when I picked up Long Division. But I was still surprised that Alan says that "Turn" is an example of "more wire and joy division influence." I guess listening to it now, I can hear it; until two minutes in, all you can hear is the freeze-frame stomp of Alan and Zak and Mimi's cymbals softly pounding away in 4/4 unison, Mimi occasionally hitting the kick for emphasis. It does sound a bit like Joy Division, or rather it feels a bit like Joy Division on record: stark, claustrophobic, etc. It also reminds me a bit of Wire, not in the "Ex Lion Tamer"/"Outdoor Miner" vein, but more the beginning of "Mercy" or "Heartbeat" or even a blunter take on something like "Used To." Twice the track blooms into something stranger, the track suddenly dialing up the intensity and noise even though nothing is happening other than Alan repeating "to turn me in" and his guitar playing switches to the a more standard early Low sound. It's a striking effect, and especially at the end of the song works fantastically well.

The lyrics are definitely more in the Joy Division school of portentous vagueness, although they outdo even Ian Curtis in those stakes; aside from some repeition, all we get is

I never thought you took me seriously
I never thought you'd be the one to turn me in

I thought you saw me on the roof
I didn't think you'd be the one to turn me in

So naturally, at first this song made me think of Alan's narrator talking on a phone on one side of a plexiglass barrier, prison guards standing by in case he tries anything. But Alan says it's a "pitiful relationship song. told kramer to make it cold." Cold it is, but relationship song? I guess songwriters often abstract outwards from the real messy details of life to get something more figurative, but listen to the guitar creep up to a louder register as Alan drones "to turn me innnnn," and tell me you don't think there's murder happening here.

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