Friday, November 15, 2013

There Is Nothing More Frightening...

So this album by The Superman Revenge Squad Band was one of the five that I mentioned in my greedyguts wishlist blog a couple of weeks ago, and I'm pleased to announce that - mildly disturbing artwork aside - it's really rather good. In fact, it's probably my favourite out of those five (although I haven't picked up my Okkervil River CD from Spillers yet so I'd better reserve that judgement for now).

Perhaps my favourite thing about There Is Nothing More Frightening Than The Passing Of Time is its talent for taking a seemingly arbitrary pop-culture reference and spinning it into gold. Paulie in Rocky Three - yes, that's the name of the song - starts with a description of this one scene in Rocky III where somebody smashes up a pinball machine (disclaimer: I have never seen any of the Rocky films), but as it transpires, the whole point of that song is that he can remember random bits of films and TV shows better than he can remember important events from his own life.

And then you have a track called Flavor Flav, which is a particularly inventive break-up song:

"If you leave me, I'll be left like Public Enemy without Flavor Flav. It would be functional, and the records would still sell (after all, Chuck D is the main man). We'd get through this somehow, but I don't think I'd want to fight the power without you."

Ben Parker - yes, like Spider Man's uncle, I believe that's this guy's name - then goes on to compare himself post-relationship to R.E.M. post-1993, acknowledging that bigger things await (like headlining Glastonbury) but suspecting that the best work is in the past and that all of those festival-goers will only want to hear the songs from Automatic for the People.

This album speaks to me on an almost embarrassingly intimate level, and I'm pretty sure it's because everything is framed in terms of albums and films and TV shows and magazines. When he sings about acting like his 13-year-old self in Lately I've Found Myself Regressing, 'regression' means reading and listening to all your old favourites, not necessarily behaving like a younger person.

And while it's true that lyrics are more interesting when they refer to albums you love and TV shows you've grown up with, I think there's a little more to this album's appeal than just 'oh awesome he's talking about R.E.M.'. This bit from We're Here for the Duration sums it up pretty well:

"I'm quoting from telly 'cause it makes much more sense, people understand stuff that comes from Joey from Friends more than they ever know."

Basically, feelings like nostalgia and discontent and wanting things to change are best expressed in cultural references because it's a language we all speak. Parker rounds off that song by quoting verbatim the chorus from Iron Maiden's Can I Play With Madness, as if to illustrate his point.

It's been a long time since I was so interested in an album's lyrical content - I've really only scratched the surface of how scarily accurate these songs are to my life - but I should mention that the music itself is pretty good too. Special mention for closing track The Angriest Dog in the World, which reveals that The Superman Revenge Squad Band have really mastered the art of the slow build:

The album can be download from the SRSB bandcamp page. Go buy it, bros and girlbros.

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