Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Beautiful South, "We Are Each Other" (1992)


I gave it a try, but never connected with the Housemartins, who sounded all right but nothing to do with me, maybe a bit narrowly British. So it did come as a surprise much later when this follow-on band with Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway impressed so much with this song. I picked it off a promo CD incidentally selling vodka, Stolar Tracks Vol. 1, which in turn came from ... somewhere. I don't remember how I got it exactly. It is clearly flailing for a 1992 Now sound, with tracks from Arrested Development ("Tennessee," no less), EMF, Jesus and Mary Chain, Lush, Screaming Trees, etc., etc. I will point out that "We Are Each Other" is buried at #11 of 16 so it had to do some work to win the attention. It insinuates by pieces, and though it takes its time the pressure is steady. Mostly what I like is how it moves and sounds like just another poppy happy declaration of love (bearing also a certain production aesthetic of the '80s and '90s). As the details emerge and pile up, however, in the aggregate it somehow crosses a line into a notable case of bad boundaries, wandering into fields of the vaguely unsettling, sometimes almost alarming: "Closer than a sister to her baby brother / Closer than a cat to the child that she'll smother" in the chorus, "I shaved all my legs and you grew hairs upon your back" noted in a verse, for examples. But you wouldn't know any of that from just hearing the song blasting into the air somewhere. It can be almost annoyingly chipper. Thus it became a mix tape staple and I kept coming back to it, and come back to it still on occasion, looking for relief to this fascinating tension. But there's no relief.

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