JUST LIKE HEAVEN by THE CURE.
Good musicians always tend to grow on you. For someone like me who loves to revisit the classic template left behind by artists as they continue to contribute to the cultural canon, it’s a point of discerning the very best.
A LETTER TO ELISE began that journey with The Cure’s discography. Adding BOYS DON’T CRY and DISINTEGRATION to that list amplified my love for the sound and texture of music that’s definitively theirs.
Now JUST LIKE HEAVEN has deepened that bond with a style that’s full of admiration for the subject of one’s attention, a style that’s wonderfully youthful and celebratory of the swings in emotions that accompany our life-choices.
To further amplify the fact that there’s a reason why these classic acts endure, look no further than the latest live performance of this hit at the NME AWARDS, 2022. Robert Smith and company are in fine fettle here.
CAROLYN’S FINGERS & PEARLY DEWDROPS’ DROPS by COCTEAU TWINS.
The use of synths in terms of a continuum of sonic sensibilities along with Elisabeth Fraser’s lucid vocal turns has cemented Cocteau Twins as permanent fixtures in my playlist.
The benchmarks of illegible but enduring, pure vocal performances on HEAVEN OR LAS VEGAS, CHERRY-COLOURED FUNK and PANDORA(FOR CINDY) gave this listener a key to unlock states of euphoria and joy that they occasion.
I’m glad then to be in thrall of the operatic style of singing employed most commendably on CAROLYN’S FINGERS and the gospel-tinged turn on PEARLY DEWDROPS’ DROPS. The enigmatic titles, the air of building an individualistic myth around these phrasings and textures are perfect for afficianados. We can imagine words in place of the free-flowing streams here or we can be immersed without a second thought in the bird-like feats of musical transference by Ms. Fraser.
I highly recommend this group to every discerning audiophile because it taps something elemental, pure in the very arena of art. That’s precious to me, mostly because the members are wonderful conjurers of aesthetics & sounds.
DEAR PRUDENCE by SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES.
Going further into the gifts of a classic group’s output, we have a Beatles cover by Siouxsie and the Banshees here.
DEAR PRUDENCE is originally gentle as a breeze and primarily acoustic, a most intimate number to be savoured with a delicate ear attuned to its melodic cadences.
In this other iteration, the rhythmic use of the guitars, drums and general ’80s sound evokes a stark, resigned aura in the form of Siouxsie Sioux’s vocals. There is no overreaching, no unnecessary flourish and that way the simplicity of the original tune remains intact. It’s a good addition to the group’s songcraft after HALLOWEEN and SPELLBOUND.
SAY YOU, SAY ME by LIONEL RICHIE.
I had listened to Lionel Richie’s SAY YOU, SAY ME many times before and felt it was another overrated ’80s song that was a little too conventional in structure and composition. Richie’s voice was nevertheless his own instrument evincing gentle, practical charm.
Now having returned to it in recent days many times over, I find it quite an impressive melody, written with heart and sensitivity. That sudden change in tone in the second half is abrupt and largely forgettable but the use of piano evokes the smooth as butter ethos of HELLO, PENNY LOVER and ENDLESS LOVE, gems from Mr. Richie’s oeuvre.
The piano, synths and echo of the vocals get more affecting so give this one a chance. It will definitely grow on you. It was also recently performed at the American Music Awards where the legendary singer was feted with a Lifetime Achievement honour. Reason enough to dive into his discography all over again. Reason enough to be sure that a classic treasure trove hardly goes out of rotation.
TRACES OF YOU by ANOUSHKA SHANKAR.
Anoushka Shankar is another illustrious talent who makes me proud of being an Indian, by dint of her legacy and the singular manner in which she has enhanced the beauty of the sitar in the contemporary world.
Her module of fusing the classical purity of this always soul-stirring instrument with worthy collaborators on vocals is a gift, as with Alev Lenz on Bright Eyes, Shilpa Rao on Those Words, Udhero Na with Arooj Aftab and Traces of You with sister Norah Jones.
Traces of You has been a favourite for so many years that discovering other instrumental pieces from the epnoymously titled album is a soothing experience. MONSOON, INDIAN SUMMER and IN JYOTI’S NAME are highlights. They are showcases for her being a conscientious practitioner of the sitar and the way this instrument always creates a pleasant ambience in any given form.
MONSOON especially will evoke her father, Pandit Ravi Shankar’s Pather Panchali theme.
JAGGED LITTLE PILL & OTHER ALANIS MORISSETTE GEMS.
If anyone has forgotten what an album as iconic as JAGGED LITTLE PILL(1995) can do to an avid listener then just go back to it again and again. And Again. IRONIC, YOU OUGHTA KNOW, YOU LEARN, HAND IN MY POCKET and MARY JANE have been staples on my playlist since the last five years and counting. They hit one in the same way as the first time, with their impeccable production, lyrics, spunk and overall compositional coherence, taking rock guitars, exemplary use of bass and even the warmth of balladry as on the excellent, piano-backed, ever-poignant MARY JANE.
Apart from that consistently beloved album, UNINVITED, THANK YOU, two songs inspired by her trip to India, fill us up with their transcendental value in terms of the instrumentation used in the former and the joyous note of gratitude in multitudes that flow like nectar in the latter. UNINVITED is just spiritually uplifting, as much now as it was on the first listen back in 2016.
Which makes the power and compassion of the rock guitar-fuelled GUARDIAN more endearing in totality.
The carousel reaches her recent success with the release of songs like eternal favourite ABLAZE, the vulnerable SMILING and the bittersweet ode to camaraderie written in the pandemic era in I MISS THE BAND.
These are songs I’ve listened to over and over again and truth be told, their restorative agency is one for the ages. Alanis is a guardian and a champion of meaningful quests. We love her for her collective discography.
SONG TO THE SIREN by THIS MORTAL COIL.
Another instance of Cocteau Twins’ Elisabeth Fraser rising to the occasion with her voice arrives with SONG TO THE SIREN.
This time around, the words are clear and the somber mood, stately and majestically serene, is how one conjures a vision of nature in its unspoilt beauty. The tone is melancholic here but equally focused on the evolution that comes with time.
SONG TO THE SIREN is an ode, a dirge and a soul-stirrer, ghostly and yet life-affirming, befitting the invocation of the muse as per its title.