Necessary Evil 2020 pt.12 (20-16)

Oh my God! The top twenty! If you’re interested in a bit of insider knowledge, this has been the most difficult list to write yet, it’s caused way more stress in my personal life than any before it, and it’s getting harder and harder to defend as a humungous drain on my time. This may well be the final countdown I do. Unless you all start giving me money of course. Just leave the bank notes in a burlap sack near the aqueducts, as per usual.

Six more entries to go!!

#20 Hinds: The Prettiest Curse

I don’t want your compassion
‘Cause I was built for action

Hinds released their 2016 debut as an amazing idea for a band but frustratingly without the tunes to back up their sizeable identities. Their second album, 2018’s ‘I Don’t Run‘, was a welcome and marked leap up in quality, with the band obviously coming on leaps and bounds as songwriters and performers. This improvement has continued at such a pace that, with the release of their third album this year, they can legitimately noe be considered one of the greatest indie rock bands in the world.

Yeah, this post is going to be a little shorter, just so you know.

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Necessary Evil 2020 pt.6 (50-46)

#50 Banoffee: Look At Us Now Dad

Banoffee’s debut album should act as an important reference point for Halsey. The subjects she covers here- from painful reconciliations to painful intergenerational trauma to, Jesus, why didn’t I just leave it as a one night stand with that prick??- are at least as weighty as those covered on Ms Frangipane’s latest. Banoffee simply covers them often more explicitly, with far more humour and raw openness. And, more importantly, does so with no shame about this being a pop album and with the mature knowledge that really shouldn’t take away from its artistic legitimacy. She’s not openly complaining about Band of Horses not being considered pop despite starting with the same three letters, she’s not arguing that her album being considered ‘pop’ and the Javier Muñoz Spanish language production The Occupant being considered a ‘movie’ is just more evidence of the suffocating patriarchy, she’s not pointing to the barbed wire around her wrist on the album cover as poof of how freaking metal she is. She has no qualms about being a pop artist and is confident in the utter magnificence she can still produce, how being a ‘pop’ artist doesn’t act as a barrier to producing such weird, challenging and effective music such as this.

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“I’ve Been Calling it ‘Depressive Suicidal Pop Music'”; Don’t Do It Neil Wanna Know What Dragon Tastes Like

You should all absolutely already know this by now, but Philadelphia’s Don’t do it, Neil was already a bit fucking special. Mabel Harper has long managed to combine a Weeknd-esque ability to document the seediness and pain behind revelry and intimacy with an exquisite understanding of how right these wrongs sometimes feel that can sometimes rival Stock, Aitken and Waterman’s grasp of sheer pop bliss. Her songs often sound like the building pleasure leading towards an orgasm while having sex with someone you really shouldn’t, but always with the underlying anxiety of the size of the mess you’ll have to clean up after your messy climax. This has been quite the opening paragraph, hasn’t it?

Worryingly, there were moments in the last couple of years involving suicidal thoughts and hospitalisations that might have led to the brilliant B/X album being her final record. However, Mabel managed to survive and process the experience, and today sees the release of her new album ‘I WANNA SEE WHAT DEATH IS LIKE‘, adding new perspectives on death, grief and mortality to an artist whose personal circumstances already made her one of the rarest perspectives in pop music. As soon as I heard of its release, I had to request an interview. Which meant only one thing.

The carrier pigeon

Yeah, I know, the handwriting’s terrible, but in my defence I asked my personal carrier pigeon (Twattori) to write it himself, so my hands are clean on this one. Unfortunately, Twattori did not survive the journey and so was unable to reach Philadelphia to deliver the message. He didn’t even survive long enough to leave the UK. In fact, he didn’t make it 50 metres from my window. Because I shot him. Seriously, did you see that handwriting? Mabel would never talk to me if she saw that. Christ, Twattori was such a prick wasn’t he?

So I just hit her up on Twitter. I was going to blow her mind with questions she’d never been asked before.

Firstly, and I’m sorry for being the 65’703rd person to ask you this question, but why ‘Don’t do it, Neil’?

In the movie Dead Poets Society, there was a kid named Neil who seemed pretty gay to me. Just a really sweet boy who discovered his love of acting only to have his passion ripped away from him by his father. Long story short, Neil kills himself during the climax of the movie, and it was really, really devastating to me. So “Don’t do it, Neil” means, “Don’t do it, Neil, don’t kill yourself.”

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Rumble in the Bumble pt.4

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

I know I promised that I wasn’t going to do another one of these until next week, but over the period of about nine hours yesterday Bumble dragged me on a roller coaster of emotions, potential and of reaching ridiculously over my limits as a physically attractive entity*. I have to assume that you’ve all read Shawn Michaels’s esteemed memoir ‘Heartbreak and Triumph’? Well, that could well be the title of this episode of my delve into the grottiness of online dating. Except that there was very little triumph involved. ‘Heartbreak and Heartbreak’ might work a little better. Except that repeated word is a little functionally unnecessary, isn’t it? Yeah, the book of yesterday on Bumble would be called ‘Heartbreak’. Do you see where this is going?

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(* though… maybe… really below… my mental attractiveness…? I don’t want to be cruel… Well… maybe I do, just a little, but as will soon become brutally clear I really need to claw back some self-respect out of this hideous situation)

What’s that? You think I’m far too obsessed with wrestling? Really?? Let’s see if that comes into play.

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18 & 17 Big Thief vs Big Thief!

Both ‘U.F.O.F’* and ‘Two Hands’ are fantastic albums. Certainly, nobody has had two albums in the Necessary Evil top 20 before, and it’s certainly to be commended how an artist can release two separate albums of general quality as these two blasts of mana. But let’s temper our explosive ejaculations just a bit, yeah? The two albums last a total of 82 minutes (perhaps. I honestly don’t trust my own maths). Lupe Fiasco’s criminally underappreciated ‘DROGAS WAVE‘ was NINETY EIGHT fucking MINUTES- because Lupe is mildly insane- and was far better than either of these records. There are twenty two tracks spread across these two records. Pffff! ‘DROGAS WAVE‘ has twenty four tracks! And that was 24 tracks narrating the story of the transatlantic slave trade and making it work as an analogy for rebirth and second chances. What’s that, Big Thief? Woozy Impressionism of banal domestic themes? You’re gonna push that for twenty two tracks? Alright. Ha! You thought I wouldn’t have the chance to talk about Lupe Fiasco this year!

Yes! What’s that, Lupe?! What’s that?! He’s talking about you again! Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy?!?!

 

(*Unidentified Flying Object Fuck. I mean… I assume… It doesn’t say on its Wikipedia page, so I’m out of ideas**)

(**it stands for friend! Unidentified Flying Object Friend!! Dudes, that’s so lame! I’m just saying, if I was 10 years old, I’d call it ‘totally gay’. Luckily, I’m older and wiser and fatter and gayer these days, so I understand the offensive connotations of referring to something as ‘gay’ in the pejorative sense. That’s why I am not saying that calling your album ‘Unidentified Flying Object Friend’ is ‘really gay’. So it’s not. But it totally is, do you understand?)

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12 The Magnetic Fields: 50 Song Memoir

Stephin Merrit’s Life, Ranked

(Wait, is it with an ‘i’?? I have been misspelling him my all life…)

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The best Magnetic Fields albums always come with a good, solid gimmick, don’t they?

We all know (and love. If you don’t love it we can never be friends. Or even sexual partners. Unless you have, like, really nice tits) ’69 Love Songs’, but there was also the brilliant ‘i’ (where every song began with said letter); the less brilliant ‘Distortion’ (where every song was layered with Jesus and Mary Chain levels of interference); ‘Love Gas from the Digestive Tract’ (which featured Stephin Merrit burping after every line); ‘Hank and Peggy’ (in which all 259 tracks were based on a separate ‘King of the Hill’ episode, which was a brilliant way of honouring one of the most underrated TV shows of all time which I’m totally going to steal!); and ‘Fabio’s Groove Ride’ (the tale of Fabio killing a goose while on a rollercoaster. No, I will never stop referencing that incident! It happened on this very day in 1999, have some fucking respect).

[I started this ‘review’ yesterday, so it’s now exactly 19 years and one day since it happened]

’50 Song Memoir’ is what it says on the tin, with each of it songs referring to a different year in Merrit’s life. Yes, there’s 50 songs, because Stephin Merrit always prefers to go absolutely gall bladder out when he’s got a gimmick he really likes.

It’s not as good as ’69 Love Songs’, because of course it isn’t as good as the best album ever with a number in its title, but it’s still an astonishingly strong collection. The highs are no way near the heights of ’69…’,

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but a far greater percentage of its songs are worthwhile: there are no piss-taking throwaways like Punk Love or Experimental Music Love and far less contrived arch jokes such as Love is Like Jazz. I might even argue that there are more great songs on ’50…’ than they are on ’69…’, but there’s nothing here anywhere near the sheer majesty of Busby Berkeley Dreams or The Book of Love or All My Little Words or The Death of Ferdinand de Saussure or I Don’t Want to Get Over You or I Shatter or…

[continues for several minutes]

I once had the brilliant idea of, instead of attempting a full Necessary Evil 2017 countdown of albums that I’ve barely lived with for three or four months, why not just have a top 50 of the songs on ’50 Song Memoir’, going into detail on all the topics and emotions brought up!? Pretty awesome, yeah?!

Unfortunately, I got that brilliant idea after I’d already started this stupid fucking list. I mean, I’m still going to do it, it just won’t be as good. Hope you’re all fine with that.

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26 Public Service Broadcasting: Every Valley

The Mining Industry’s Colapse is Unfortunately Not Always Super Entertaining

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I don’t think any widely used (and often misquoted) maxim gets me more riled* than the one that supposes all the world’s problems could have easily avoided if people just payed a little more attention in history class.

History’s great: the past was fucking mental and studying quite how bananas it was is always fascinating. In fact, I’d say that out of all the school subjects history was definitely my favourite ‘ry’, better than chemistry, carpentry and podiatry (my school was very weird). But to say that knowledge of it would prevent making similar mistakes in the future just completely misunderstands human psychology: when you hear of past logistical failures, you don’t wisely choose to avoid making the mistakes, you do it all exactly the same because, deep down, you know that it’ll work when you do it because you’re frickin’ awesome. Do you think that in late 1942 some bespectacled nerd Nazi soldier (a ‘nazerd’? A ‘nerdzi’? Yeah, I like that second one) hurried to the front of the battalion encroaching on Russia with his school history text book shouting at the admiral “Hey, mate, hey! I’ve just read up a bit on this whole ‘invading Russia’ lark, and it turns out it might not be a good idea…!”

No. Hitler knew all about his history. He just assumed that he would be able to get it done right. Because he was Adolf fucking Hitler and he didn’t give a fuuuuuuuuuuuuck, yo.

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(…)

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32 Jay-Zed: 4:44

Poking a Hornets Nest for 444 Word

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“OJ like: ‘I’m not black I’m OJ’/OK…’

Firstly, if you even mention the OJ Simpson case to me, you automatically have my full attention. Ever since I watched the astonishing ‘OJ: Made in America’ documentary (kayfabe) last year In have come to realise that the story of the trial is in fact the most important news story in America in the latter half of the 20th century*, narrowly beating Fabio getting hit by a goose in 1999 whilst on a rollercoaster at Busch Gardens, Williamsburg (I cannot stop referencing that incident). This is chiefly because I finally realised why he was nicknamed ‘The Juice’, and concluded that’s definitely the best nickname ever (again, narrowly beating Fabio, whose nickname later became ‘The Goose’). I have seriously watched the entire season maybe 10 times, and if I ever learned of a cinema showing its full 467 minutes run time in one sitting (which has been done in the past) I would run there faster than The Juice himself running to score a lineback overtime dunk (I’m still not sure what sport he played) or, if you prefer your similes to be a little fruitier, I would run there faster that OJ Simpson ran from [DELETED ON LEGAL ADVICE] after he [DELETED ON LEGAL ADVICE] in his [DELETED ON DATED REFERENCE ADVICE]. Ooooooh, you’re a saucy one, Alex!

The line at the top of this ‘review’ is from the man himself and quoted in one of many album highlights The Story of OJ

The thing is…

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#ClickBait (wait, is that one word…?)

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