Tuesday, 1 September 2009

2008: Saturdays = Youth

This was the hardest pick by far. Maybe I'd started paying closer attention, but I like to think that 2008 was just a great year for releases. Deerhunter's Microcastle / Weird Era Cont., Wild Beasts' Limbo, Panto and Johnny Foreigner's Waited Up 'Til It Was Light were all serious contenders; there were also corkers from British Sea Power, Okkervil River, Cut Copy, Bon Iver, Elbow and No Age; and two excellent records from my old pals Los Campesinos! saw them rapidly promoted to the indie-pop A-list.

One album captivated me more than any other that year though. If Daft Punk mined a euphoric nostalgia for a lost childhood, their compatriot Anthony Gonzalez casts a more wistful, melancholic glance back at juvenile days, to no less dazzling effect. Torch song 'Kim & Jessie' sounds like a joyous tribute to the 80s film soundtrack - insert your own John Hughes reference here - singing of 'kids outside worlds' who are 'crazy 'bout romance and illusion,' but the chorus evokes a much darker scene: 'Somebody lurks in the shadows, somebody whispers.' It's all the gusto of youth, infused with the accompanying bouts of paranoia, self-doubt, and confusion as to one's place in the world.

It is this classic pop juxtaposition, which characterised the 80s of Gonzalez's youth, of lyrical anxiety set to glorious, often upbeat electronic music, that is realised so perfectly on Saturdays = Youth, and which makes it such a success. 'Graveyard Girl' is another fine example, the guitar-led rush of the chorus breaking for a spoken word part, heralded by a ringing schoolbell: 'I'm gonna jump the walls and run. I wonder if they'll miss me? I won't miss them... I'm fifteen years old, and I already feel like it's too late to live. Don't you?'

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