‘Something in my heart is loose/There’s never been a better day.’ I wasn’t a fan of Hot Chip. They seemed to suffer from that over-clever fussiness I spoke of before about Django Django but with added naff quirkiness. But in the middle of this year’s In Our Heads they produced a double whammy of rightness, the elastic, funk-pop of Night and Day and the moody urban-pulse of Flutes, a seven minute epic of emotional confusion that seems to mainline, somehow, the heart-beat of modern life, its euphoria and helplessness, an underlying feeling that everything is fluid and beautiful and wrong.
The Heroic Weather-Conditions of the Universe, Part 7: After The Storm
Favourite Songs 2012
#8 Alexandre Desplat - The Heroic Weather-Conditions of the Universe, Part 7: After The Storm
The soundtrack to Moonrise Kingdom was, as always with Wes Anderson, a fine collection of found pieces, this time by the likes of Benjamin Britten, Francoise Hardy and Hank Williams, but also contained Alexandre Desplat’s delightful original score in seven parts,The Heroic Weather-Conditions of the Universe. My favourite was Part 7: After The Storm, which ’demonstrated the orchestration of Mr Desplat’s suite’ in the style of Leonard Bernstein’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. Each element, instruments and voices, introduced by the film’s young star Jared Gilman. It’s not only hypnotic but educational too!
’I’ll be your Emmylou/And I’ll be your June/If you’ll be my Gram/And my Johnny too.’ It seems faintly absurd that these young Swedish sisters, Johanna and Klara, could produce such a classic slice of country music, but here it is, achingly redemptive, worthy of Emmylou and Gram themselves, as romantic a piece of Americana as you’d care to hear, all peddle-steel sweetness and sublime harmonies, where mention of bitter winds only makes the music warmer, the loneliness keener, the (wished-for) surrender deeper.
Yeah, it’s Grimes, like on every other list but really, there’s no denying that twanging, squelchy synth-beat, or the sweet layers of voice floating over it, or the weirdly addictive, deeper, counter synth-line that comes in at 2.27, the way they all combine towards the end. There are lyrics, about how vulnerable and alone she feels, how someone could come up behind her at night and snap her neck, send her to oblivion, but really, who’s listening to that, who could even make it out? In the end its all about the pleasure of the sounds.
Context is everything. Take Two Door Cinema Club. Their catchy, pop-shiny records make more sense in the summer, invoking Mediterranean skies, sunlit water and open windows (without ever tipping over into being The Script or something equally awful). In the heart of winter it can sound frivolous but there’s no denying it did the job during what passes for a summer around here. In this sense, you could argue that music isn’t a badge of identity it’s a moveable feast, a context-specific utility. Basically, you can almost justify liking anything if the time (and place) are right. Almost.
’Materialize/Or let the ashes fly…’ Inevitable really, obvious even, but from the first time I heard it I knew this was going to be hard to beat. And so it proved. It moved through the year’s music like a Spanish galleon through trawlers and tugboats. In fact it wasn’t even in the water, it was sailing across the night sky, torch-lit, masts and flags rippling in the breeze. From cowbell start to piano fade-out everything in between is majestic and mysterious, suitably mythic, suffused with feeling. It could attach itself to any number of emotions, embrace them for you, without ever being specifically sentimental, just Victoria Legrand’s siren-voice floating through you, over you, around you.