tremble clef

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sugababes, "Ace Reject" (2005)

When, a month or so ago, Popjustice started listing a Sugababes song called "Ace Reject" on their Chart of Truth, I thought: bitches, not only do you have to remind us that you're privy to The Hot Pop ages before the rest of us mortals, but you have to rub our faces in how you also get to hear the outtakes, the songs deemed by the girls to be not good enough for the album but which you think are terrific?

Um, yeah. As it turns out, I was stupid: "Ace Reject" is an actual song on the new Taller In More Ways album. (So I'm now thinking that "Something We Might Never Be Able To Tell You About" must be a new song by the Pet Shop Boys.) But perhaps I could be forgiven my stupidity, and it was all an intentional joke on the 'Babes part, hard as it is to imagine any of the surly girls cracking a smile. The phrase doesn't even appear in the song, so was probably put there to bait idiots like me. It's like they think they're New Order. Speaking of, there is another song on the album called "Joy Division," in which the girls discuss the horrors of sexual slavery via the medium of light-hearted comic strips. (Lying!) And what about that album title, which is either absurd (how many ways are there to be taller?...) or brilliant (...well, I guess literal and figurative, and that's the point), I can't decide.

But half-the-song-title does win the truth in advertising award, because the song is indeed ace. (I'm sure I'm the first to make that pun.) The whole album didn't really pop for me on the first few listens. Aside from the obvious monsters ("Push The Button" and "Red Dress," and perhaps the album title-spawning "Ugly"), the rest seemed rather lackadaiscal. Again, I was stupid. Well, somewhat stupid, because they are still a number of stinkers on there. But two of the other songs have, upon further listens, revealed themselves to be the absolute gems they are.

"2 Hearts" is one -- it begins by fooling you into thinking it'll be a crap ballad, but then a rush of words come at you, and the ending swells and swells with the intricate strings rising and rising and getting more entangled, and just when you think it can't get more beautiful, the horns come in to rip your heart right out just in time for the album to end.

"Ace Reject" is the other. It's in some ways made up of bits from other songs, so perhaps the title is appropriate after all. It starts with a wocka-wocka rhythm that is like a slowed-down version of the one backing Moonbaby's/Lene Nystrom's/Girls Aloud's "Here We Go," and the synthesizer riff of the chorus is somewhat reminiscent of the beep-beep-beep bit in the chorus of Saint Etienne's "Burnt Out Car." Since these are all Xenomania productions, they're not stealing (BAD!), just quoting themselves (POMO!).

Even the chorus of "Ace Reject," with the by now patentable Sugababes style in which they sing a rushed jumble of words, harkens back to "Angels With Dirty Faces." That chorus is a thing of beauty, made more so because it takes forever to announce itself as a chorus. (Apparently an earlier version of the track that was leaked has a different structure; I wouldn't know, since I only listen to official releases.) After the first verse, the song goes into two iterations of something ("wasting time..."), and at first we can't at first tell if it's a refrain or a chorus. When we get through with them, we don't in fact get a proper chorus, just a catchy but fairly buried synthesizer riff. Oh. I guess that "wasting time" bit was the chorus then. Meh.

The song next turns back around and heads into another verse, and then into what we at this point are resigned to considering as the chorus. But finally, finally, this time when these bits end, the 'Babes start singing along with the keyboard riff: "We break up and make it up/Back and forth we never stop/Every time a change of heart/I can’t keep up." It's sung rapid-fire, as if the melody can barely contain the girls' emotions. Because we waited so long for this glorious chorus, we are rewarded with another round: "You say yes and I say no/When it turns hot we make it cold/And still something between us holds us together." And if all this weren't enough, everything then slows down for a refrain which has the song's more poetic lines ("Ain't it funny how sweet I dream, but the bed keeps on getting colder/Sometimes when I close my eyes, it feels like I'm living by numbers"). It's another example of Xenomania experimenting with the structure of the pop song, so for god's sake, keep up.


  • But will they replace Queen Mutya with some anonymous wench on a single release? Oy vey esmir.

    "Two Hearts" is my song! I love the lyric about "everything about you/us makes/helps me grow/glow" - at least I think that is it. I love songs in the same way I don't know a lover's eye color.

    Sorry to overtake all your comments fields, BTW.

    By Blogger xolondon, at 7:24 PM  

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