“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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You All Knew This Was Coming [UPDATED]

This blog has never been the place for timely, contemporary and up to the minute fresh takes. In normal circumstances, if something notable happens during the year I simply put it aside in that special part of my brain that I hope to access around December, then at the end of the year I rant about it in a blog post about my 25th best album of the year, or whatever, when every other person in the world has long stopped caring about it. Or, most likely, I’ll simply forget all about it and instead go off on a tangent about rape fantasies or utter fucking nonsense. It was all we wanted. All we needed. We were happy.

Well, COVID-19 got me doing all sorts of crazy shit that I’ve never done before- last Tuesday I ate an unsalted pistachio*- so I guess I may as well add to the insanity by commenting on something that only just happened this last week. Partly this is because a particularly obnoxious crow outside my window has woken me up at two thirty in the morning, like I’m a 15th century wheelwright working in the tower of his master’s monastery or some shit, but partly because Lana Del Rey’s 21st May Instagram post really got under my skin. Yeah, mostly the former. Sniff, sniff, what’s that smell? Oh yeah! Precious motherfucking content!!

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My Life in Albums (part 3 07-20/death)

Put my mind at ease, pretty please, I need your hands on me, sweet relief, pretty please…

Yeah, I’m in a good mood, what of it? Wanna fight about it? Bring it on, I bet I’ll have you kissing me before the first punch lands, because how can you stay angry at this face?? My good mood mainly arises from three reasons. Firstly, longtime reader Beryl got in touch to tell me how she enjoyed the last post, and only made the polite suggestion that this series could be improved if it…

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incorporated more hardcore scat pornography?? Jesus fucking Christ, Beryl. Honestly, whenever I’m that close to relaxing that restraining order, you come out with something that sends us back to square one. Maybe I’m at fault here for expecting more from someone I met on the online scatological fetish dating app ‘ScatrBraind‘, but I just always assumed she was interested in the person around the fecal matter, y’know?

Anyway, the second reason is that this will definitely be the final part in this series, allowing me to abandon my blog again to return to my three real loves (masturbating, crying, and masturbating while crying. Mainly the third, if I’m being completely honest).  Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, we are now actually into the years where I made a point of listing the best albums, so this part should be an absolute piece of piss! Look at the header of this blog- I’ve already got my best albums of 07-19 listed! I just need to copy those albums down again for this entry! It’s 8:53 now, and I’ll have all this done and dusted in time for my traditional 9am cry! Let’s do this shit!!

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Rumble in the Bumble pt 10: 500TH POST SPECTACULAR!!!!

Yes, believe it or not that blog title’s true and, no, I’m not doing one of my ‘bits’. As will later become evident, this is going to become far too serious a post to do ‘bits’. Apart from all those ‘bits’ that I’ll inevitably do. They don’t count. This is actually the 500th piece of aggressively partisan and dangerously unedited nonsense that I’ve reached down into my spleen to messily smear the blood and puss across my computer screen, since I first started uploading my albums of the year to this poorly designed WordPress blog that nobody reads in December 2014. I’ve written this piece of shit for almost exactly five and a half years!! That’s roughly 2000 days, so I’ve written on average a post every four days, which would sound like this was a regularly updated blog, wouldn’t it? But, no, you usually get a whole year’s worth of posts in December, and you’re happy. Much like your Mum, this blog comes very loaded towards the back.

But this calls for a celebration, no?? I, of course, planned ahead, and purchased a rather snazzy hat:

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“Gender is Garbage”- Aqua Girl Gets Woods

Listen, I’ve tried to explain to you gormless mouth breathers before that Aqua Girl is pretty freaking special. Her 2018 debut was one of the best albums of the year, a knock out introduction to a talent able to write songs that candidly narrated a perhaps under represented  perspective of the transgender and nonbinary experience.
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But- and I’ve long been concerned that maybe my review of her debut didn’t properly credit this- she’s not ‘just’ a singing trans woman, her gender identity doesn’t define her- she’s special because she frequently writes fucking bangers! As Elora Driver, she’s already released Sunburn, one of the best songs of 2020 so far, and she’s smart enough to realise that, logically, perfect pop songs rarely need to last longer than two minutes.
When she announced in March that her second album proper was on its way in April, I was, obviously, so excited that I wet myself for three minutes straight. Like, I just drained myself of moisture, you really should have been there.  It was clear that I needed to mark this momentous occasion with a blog post, but did this mean a freaking album review?? I hate ‘reviewing albums’! I sit down and have time to listen to the album a dozen times on repeat, then I’m supposed to dribble out 2’500 words on how it made me feel?? I don’t know how it makes me feel! I haven’t lived with it for any decent time, it hasn’t soundtracked any glories or any tragedies in my life yet, I don’t know which track I jump to if I need to be taken up or taken down, I couldn’t yet tell you which track gave me a tiny bit of an erection while I was on the bus last Wednesday morning. If I reviewed it after merely hours after first being introduced to it, I would rate it as ‘pretty good’, as that’s almost all you can say about a piece of art that early on.
So I thought… what if I interview her…? Let her explain her positions in her own words rather than me making widely inaccurate and borderline offensive statements based on me force feeding the work for a handful of listens. I put the idea to her on Twitter and she was kind enough to agree. The following interview took the form of an email exchange over the course of a couple of weeks, but if you’d prefer, picture us both in the bar at Ritz-Carlton, me furiously scribbling Elora’s words of wisdom with a stubby pencil that I store in my cap, while she sprawls back on a chaise lounge with a smirk on her mouth and one eyebrow archly raised as she charmingly answers questions between sips of cognac. All while we keep four feet apart, of course. To be honest, I thought the interview would be more of a frivolous and lighthearted series pf responses to dumb questions, but Aqua Girl actually managed to pull it into engaging and almost profound places through sheer force of charisma, until the interview ends up almost interesting. That might be Aqua Girl’s greatest achievement to date

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4 Little Simz: Grey Area

I say it with my chest and I don’t care who I offend, uh huh, ha

Just to let you know, dear reader, at times in this article it may sound like I’m derogating the general situation or decrying a loss of civility in wider society or lame things like that, but I am actually complaining about you personally, as your own behaviour is at the centre of what I’m talking about and it is completely within your power to address it. And, I’m sorry, but if you consider yourself left wing then you really are chiefly what I’m thinking of. We cool? We cool??

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If you are left wing, you are (generally, generally, generally!!) concerned with supporting the community rather than the individual but also want the state to make it as easy as possible for a human being to express themselves freely and with a truly equal framework of opportunity. That’s cool and- you know what?- I probably agree with you. If you are right wing you are (generallyGen-er-motherfuckin’-ly!!!) concerned more with allowing the more successful people as little impediments to their achievements as possible, you think the best state is one that interferes as little as possible, that things like high taxes and overzealous bureaucracy only discourages human potential. You (GENERALLY!!!!) thank that to support the less successful financially is actually just encouraging people to ‘do nothing’ and removes the impetus for them to truly excel. That’s cool. I don’t agree, but we both honestly believe that our positions on society are what’s best for either the good of the community/country/world or just, y’know, yourself and your own family. Maybe the latter’s more important to you. Maybe the former’s more important to me only because it will increase the good of the latter. Maybe we both think that the former plays a part in improving the latter but without the latter being dealt with the former has no chance but without the former being stabilised we don’t even have a latter but then what is the former if not just a larger collection of latters and the latter and the former both need to somehow work in synergy? Yes, that’s probably the one statement we can all agree with.

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20 Hannah Cohen: Welcome Home

I absolutely adore Hannah Cohen. I would go as far as saying I love her. As an artist, of course, I think she’s amazingly talented and has that certain something special that you can’t quite put your finger on. She may well be a fucking nightmare as a person. Maybe she spends half the time complaining about how dumb people are for watching Love Island, and the other half actually watching Love Island “Just to see how shit it is”. Maybe she’s a staunch believer in aromatherapy and whenever you bring up the questionable science behind it she simply states that there’s “A lot we don’t know about the world”. Maybe she prefers Jurassic Park 2 to Jurassic Park. I mean, it’s not a bad film, don’t get me wrong, but come on! Maybe she hates feminism because she “doesn’t hate men”, which leads to so many circular arguments that you know it’s a guaranteed evening wasted if you bring it up so have learned not to. Maybe, when she rides the bus on her own, she sits on the seat next to the aisle and leaves an empty seat next to the window just to make sure nobody sits next to her. Do you know these people?? Worse than fucking Hitler. Maybe- in fact, statistically, very probably– Ms Cohen is the absolute worse person in the world, that doesn’t matter, it’s the artist that I love.

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“[FUNNY QUOTE]”  Sorry, it’s late and I’m tired
 

Pleasure Boy‘ was all kinds of amazing. One of the best albums of

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42 Daughters: You Won’t Get What You Want

One of the greatest/worst aspects of life in 2019 is how we all have the power to fine tune and curate exactly what world we live in, edit and personalise what news we hear and what bent ideology it pours from. When I was a bairn, the whole country basically had the same experience, all the time. We all heard Love Is All Around until we all wanted to ruthlessly and repeatedly embed a screwdriver deep into our own eardrums until the flowing blood hopefully drowned out Marti Pellow’s smirk (not me though, Love is All Around is a fuckin’ choon). We all watched Coronation Street last night, so could debate the meaning of Mavis Whooptuck performing a blood sacrifice in order to bring Harold Hupptickle back from the dead (my memories of Coronation Street are a bit cloudy, I’ll admit). Most importantly, we all got the same news. Sure, many people would still buy utter horseshit like the Sun or the Daily Mail- or The Guardian if they were a little more middle class and, let’s face it, a bit twatty- but we kind of all agreed that if it made it to BBC News, then it was likely correct. Likely due to laws restricting the bias of TV news in this country and the very charter of the BBC forbidding any bias or political inclinations in the news reporting. It’s, of course, not perfect*, it’s not always 100% observed, but it’s at least enshrined into law and aimed for, meaning that everyone always tuned into the TV news at the end of the day expecting them to brush the propaganda from the day’s events and tell us what really happened.

“Julie, for fuck’s sake, can you put the brandy down for five minutes??”

(*there were shocking scenes earlier this year when a BBC news reporter had the temerity to suggest that, growing up with an Indian mother and Mauritian father, racism was actually really gross and that Trump’s racist comments actually sounded very familiar. That’s how seriously we take impartiality- a woman of Asian descent isn’t allowed to call out the racist president for saying racist things and say that racism was bad. Apparently, a lot of viewers were still undecided on racism and didn’t want the crazy hippy idea that it was somehow a negative thing shoved down their throat. A white BBC news guy said similar things, but nobody complained about that, because… y’know…).

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56 Self Esteem: Compliments Please

I’ve not had as much of a personal relationship with many artists on this list as I have had with Rebecca Lucy Taylor, the sole guiding force behind the wonderful project Self Esteem. I mean, sure, I went out for a few meals with no.78, Billie Eilish, but that was more of a group thing, and to be honest we’re unlikely to meet up again after she told friends that me constantly getting drunk and telling her how much she reminded me of my ex-girlfriend at school* was making her feel ‘a bit weird’. Tsk, kids these days, ammi right?? Not allowed to say anything to the Snowflake Generation! I had a passionate- some people (and indeed a high court judge in an official statement on October 23rd) would say violent- one night sexual relationship with no.81, Mark Mulcahy, but that wasn’t really a long term thing, with Mark claiming he can’t even look at me anymore and only contacting me through his lawyer. And, of course, I guess I know no.63 a little bit, but no way near as I really should, and I should really make more time to get to know him, you feel me?

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That’s you, that is

 

(*my girlfriend was at school, I was 32 at the time)

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2019’s Best Movie: Sorry We Missed You

Yeah, I know, continuing my proud tradition of naming the year’s best movie alongside the albums of the year countdown. ‘Under the Skin‘ was named 2014’s movie of the year, but the award went unclaimed in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and indeed every year before 2014. However, the (latest) masterpiece by Ken Loach, ‘Sorry We Missed You,’ was such a powerful piece that inspired such painful bolts of recognition and sheer fucking anger that I had to make space in 2019 to talk about it.

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Oh, and by the way, this isn’t going to be one of those “Ooooooh, look at the camera angles! isn’t the mise en scène lovely?! Hints of Akira Kurosawa’s vagina dentata, perhaps??” reviews, as I have no interest in actually talking about the movie. Instead, these is mainly going to be a thousand words or so of me ranting about the twisted nature of capitalism in 2019. Like I said, it’s gonna be a lot of fun.

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