I’ve never tried to understand where the obsessions always regulating my life come from. I’ve never looked for that small grain of sand that suddenly gets my brain jammed so it can’t turn its attention away from some specific object. Sometimes I wish I could explain to myself why I am capable of reading a book a hundred times without growing tired of it, or watch a movie over and over again without the slightest disgust. And above all, I wish I knew why I can’t get certain albums out of my head—instantly turning them into a monomania—but forget about all the others.
I’ve experienced that several times this year: with albums from Black Lips, Beirut, the peculiar Wugazi, and above all Malachai (about which I’ve already written here) and WU LYF, two albums which have been outshining all others for a long time. The same process has just happened again with the new Slow Club album, Paradise, from which I can’t escape ever since the very first listening.
Okay, let’s be honest: I have been in love with Rebecca Taylor for quite a while—mostly because of her voice, healing every sorrow. That same voice can stab strongly as well. I hadn’t felt this way about their first album, Yeah So, but Paradise broke down the barriers: it has soaked into my brain, grabbed hold of every muscle. Roughly invaded everything. And there was nothing I could do.
I haven’t been listening to anything else for weeks because everything else seems dull and pale to me. And I am just now beginning to try to dissect this record so eventually I can figure out how and why it has entered my life this way.
The solemn intro of “Two Cousins”, opening the album, instantly causes me a heartache as I hear it. This very moment where you get trapped, believing the piece will be smooth, light and quiet; with Slow Club, silk can turn coarse. Violins are screeching, piano keys are grating; and again, Rebecca’s voice stings and shoots through. While listening to “Two Cousins”, I get the strange impression of being locked in a washing machine, caught in a huge wave. I experience a short moment when I think I won’t be able to breathe anymore, ever. And the moment after, when I catch a gulp of air, inflating my lungs again, my heart starts beating again. My heartbeat systematically follows the tribal percussion of Slow Club’s music: such as on “If We’re Still Alive” and “Where I’m Waking”. The latter is enough to cause me tachycardia. Whereas I can feel my heart slow its pace with the anti-ballad “You, Earth or Ash”, poisoning my blood with its venom, me being unaware of it. These songs make me feel I am alive.
Because I think this is the crux of these obsession-creating albums: they enter my life as well as my body. Each instrument becomes one of my organs. They make me jump up, tense up, tremble, hold my breath. It is like an odd, foreign phenomenon affecting my behaviour. Like sagas regulating my daily life from morning to night –I can’t even find sleep without them.
These albums are so tremendous to me that I get overwhelmed. They exceed my own willpower. They make me feel like crying or falling in love without good reason, and give me renewed hope sometimes. They turn any underground journey into a heroic adventure (e.g. “The Dog” feels something like a movie soundtrack, an old Zelda maybe), making me joyful and happy when nothing is going right. (Whatever happens, the award in this category goes to WU LYF with “We Bros” and “Spitting Blood”.)
These albums don’t change the meaning of my life but definitely the way I live it: everything is more beautiful, more intense, more desperate, more dramatic, more passionate, or more humorous. And the weather has never seemed so fine when it rains ever since Paradise came to my ears.