Champions of the fucking world
What can I not stop listening to? I can't stop listening to ballboy's album a guide for the daylight hours and the preceding single 'where do the nights of sleep go to when they do not come to me'. Why can I not stop listening to them? Because for one thing they remind me of how I fell hopelessly in love with the Wedding Present too many years ago to mention. And for another, they remind me of the awesome power of Pop to inform, deform, refine and define life; they remind me of the thrill of it all. Sorry, they remind me of the thrill of It all.
Listening to ballboy makes me want to be nineteen again, and that's really saying something of course because being nineteen sucks shit. Or it did for me at least. Even more so than being sixteen. Being nineteen was just the worst, although I did have the Wedding Present and I did have some supreme faith in, ah, who knows what the fuck I had faith in, but it had noisy guitars that went thanga thanga jangle crashhhhhhh and drums that walloped me in the head until I smiled from the pain. I had faith in noises that went off like cluster bombs in my heart.
And when I say that's how ballboy make me feel, I mean, oh, I mean I envy anyone young in years who will hear this magnificent sound and NOT be forced to make references like, uh, it sounds like the Wedding Present, and who will instead just go leaping around the room, bouncing off the furniture, emptying bottles of cheap red wine on a night-in holed up by the speakers, devouring every word and every note and wanting to cry with a resounding 'YES' that splits the very core of their being asunder when the words 'and then the cellos kick in' kick in.
When I say that's how ballboy make me feel I mean that when I hear those lines in 'I lost you but I found country music' that go 'I miss you, but luckily there's music to get me through. And I think of you every day of my life, and every day I miss you and wonder and guess what you are listening to' (although it might actually be 'when you are listening too') I want to just open up and empty my head of tears because, aw look, I just think of Sethe and where are you these days anyway? And for me when those lines come out of the speakers that's me singing to you, kid, and what the hell, you need to hear this song wherever the fuck you are, you need to hold this whole album to your heart and let it heal you, let it turn your world on its head and let the shit seep out, leaving you pure and whole again.
Or maybe I just think about myself.
And when I say that listening to ballboy makes me feel the same way I did six or more years ago when I fell obsessively in love with the sounds and stances of Belle and Sebastian, Delgados, and Arab Strap, when I say that in places it makes me think of how Hefner and Baxendale both lifted me up to greater places, I mean that I forget all that past in fact and am reborn, feel the clouds clear from in front of my eyes, ascend to the heavens on the back of NOISES, on the crest of waves of words that nod and wink and shimmy up beside me and go 'this is special' in that infuriatingly knowing way they have. And does it matter that Stuart David and Aidan Moffat did that kind of spoken word thing all those years ago and that ballboy tap into that so clearly? Well no, obviously it doesn't matter in the slightest, it's just an extension of all that I held dear, now hold dear again, and indeed reminds me of standing myself in a tiny London upstairs pub room with shitty electronic doodles as backing sound and reading my own words from notebooks and... and nothing more.
So for all those reasons and a million more that I don't want to go into but if pressed might have something to do with notes of all dimensions creeping around the bay in the moonlight; echoes of whispers in ears from six years past; the perfume coming up from the ground and sitting out on top of the world reading the stars and listening to Godspeed You Black Emperor. Might be to do with seeing you dead in the rain. Might be to do too with finding David Shrigley contributing artwork for the sleeve and to the magical booklet that takes the place of the usual 'here's the lyrics and some photos' insert.
So for all that and more, I can't stop listening to ballboy. For all that and more I give you, in Shrigley's own words (kind of): ballboy. Champions of the fucking world.
© 2002 Alistair Fitchett
a guide for the daylight hours is out on November 11th.
Both are on SL Records.