Friday, February 7, 2014

Mississauga Goddam

Thanks to my uncanny talent for losing stuff, I recently endured a week or so with no iPod. Now, it's not like I just stopped listening to music during that period - how torturous would that be? - but the lack of a portable player did make my journeys to and from work far, far quieter than usual.

Happily, I've got the iPod back now (my friend JR found it in a sleeping bag when he crashed on my sofa the other night), and I'm thrilled to bits because, among other things, it means that I can listen to Mississauga Goddam on the go again. This album was well on its way to being a new favourite when the iPod went missing; to be so cruelly and abruptly robbed of those songs, and at a time when I was just beginning to really appreciate them, stung pretty bad.

But now I've got them back, and everything's good again! Forever!

This CD cost a mere £3 from Bristol's own Rise Music, and boy howdy was it a bargain. The catchy wordless choruses that were all over AWOO are all over this earlier album, too, which is very good news - check out the galloping, William Tell-esque hook that leads The Fear is On into battle:

I remember that, shortly after hearing AWOO for the first time, I read Joel Gibb's description of his band as 'gay church folk music' and being a little confused. Mississauga Goddam is a much better fit for that subgenre; the 'church' part is audible in Music is My Boyfriend's choral breakdown and in the religious imagery that adorns That's When the Ceremony Starts, while the 'gay' part is, well, everywhere. Here are some choice lyrical cuts:

"I drank from the wine that came from inside the heart of his meat and the splurge of his sweet"
- That's When the Ceremony Starts

"In the union of wine, I may be lost but he is mine, to be on top from behind and the odour of the refined"
- In the Union of Wine

"I believe in the good of life as I kneel for a taste of man"
- I Believe in the Good of Life

The winter olympics it ain't. But the best thing about this album isn't its racy lyrics, nor is it the exceptional hit ratio. The very best thing about Mississauga Goddam is Gibb & Co.'s fantastic grasp of tension and release.

The last two tracks are the best examples. I Want Another Enema builds and builds, sticking on one chord and filling up like a bucket until, finally, the bucket tips over and washes into a stellar chorus about being addicted to hair removal. The closing track, Mississauga Goddam, pulls a similar trick; it starts with this gorgeous melody, then takes it away for just long enough to make us thing that we're not going to hear it again...and then it comes back again.

As a songwriter, I'm extremely jealous of Joel Gibb. I feel like I've cheated whenever I repeat a verse or something, and yet this guy can get away with singing "I want another enema" over and over again, inexplicably infusing it with more desperation than a thousand sixth form poems. Aggravating.

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