tremble clef

Thursday, November 30, 2006

NU, "Any Other Girl" (2003)

"Come on baby show it, come on baby show it/Come in and meet the boys, get down and see the toys/But I don't wanna feel like, I don't wanna feel like/Any other girl, any other girl." I guess what these lines lack in coherence, it makes up for in emphasis, given the way vocalist Stine Jacobsen says everything twice. She doesn't want to be, she doesn't want to be, any other girl, any other girl. You know, you know?

A Danish electrorock band, NU in 2003 was poised to achieve great things, even with their ungoogleable name. They released a memorable single, the insistent "Any Other Girl," and even placed it on the American Wedding soundtrack. An entire album, AlphaBravoShockpopDisco!, followed -- and it boasted an eye-catching sleeve, something akin to the female version of Fischerspooner's #1 from the year before. Then...nothing. The movie tanked, the album didn't do anything noteworthy, so much so that the group seemed to have disbanded shortly after (their website is certainly no longer extant).

Perhaps timing is everything. NU's brand of female-fronted electrorock would have made them fit nicely nowadays among the Stefys and the Rogue Traders of the world, whereas in 2003 only Garbage, whose sound was deemed tired by then, served as a point of comparison. Maybe Stine (and company) should have waited a couple of years to be just like any other girl. Of course, the problem is that she would now be, well, like any other girl. Should I say that again?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Army Of Lovers, "My Army Of Lovers" (1990)

In the course of packing, I've had to go through my music tapes to see if I could -- yeah, I still have cassettes. I am old. DO YOU WANT TO MAKE AN ISSUE OF IT!? Because I will beat your punk adolescent ass with my walking stick.

So, among these tapes are some compilations I'd made. Nowadays, of course, making a mix is simply a matter of dragging tracks onto playlists, and hitting the virtual "burn" button. Not too long ago, kids, it was a more precarious task. You had to plan out the running order; go "one-mississippi-two-mississippi..." in between the tracks, to ensure that the right amount of silence got in there; grind your teeth as you nervously wonder if you can really squeeze that last song onto side A before the tape runs out, because the entire story you are trying to tell would be absolutely ruined if that track should get relegated to Side B, and God I am getting an ulcer just reliving it. But if this all added up to make it a more stressful task, it was -- at the risk of romanticizing the "good" "old" days -- therefore also a more loving one.

There are longer stories to tell about compilation-making (and once upon a time, elsewhere, I told several such stories before everyone got bored). But let's focus for now on this particular tape. Here is the tracklist:

Side A. 1. Pet Shop Boys, "Being Boring" 2. Prefab Sprout, "We Let The Stars Go" 3. Lloyd Cole & The Commotions with Tracy Thorn, "Big Snake" 4. Tanita Tikaram, "Twist In My Sobriety" 5. Banderas, "It's Written All Over My Face" 6. Electronic, "The Patience Of A Saint" 7. Dusty Springfield, "Daydreaming" 8. Everything But The Girl, "Meet Me In The Morning" 9. Andy Pawlak, "Love Letters" 10. Praise, "Only You" 11. Army of Lovers, "My Army Of Lovers"

Side B. 1. Massive Attack, "Unfinished Sympathy" 2. David Bowie & The Pat Metheny Group, "This Is Not America" 3. Strawberry Switchblade, "Who Knows What Love Is?" 4. Pet Shop Boys, "Your Funny Uncle" 5. ABBA, "Like An Angel Passing Through My Room" 6. Bananarama, "Ghost" 7. The Dream Academy, "It Will Never Happen Again" 8. Neneh Cherry, "Move With Me" 9. Pet Shop Boys, "King's Cross" 10. Dusty Springfield, "Nothing Has Been Proved" 11. Boy George, "The Crying Game" 12. Tracy Huang, "For Love"

I made this tape in 1990 or 1991, for a specific and slightly exciting purpose: a friend of mine was holding her first one-woman photography exhibition. I was of course very happy for her...but even better, here was my chance to program the music for the opening! Of course, I am not sure if I asked her whether she needed music for the occasion. But I certainly showed up with this tape in hand. She may be the artist, but I created art in my own way too, you know, with my mad compilin' skillz.

And I do still really like the mix. At first sight, it might seem that the presiding spirit of the compilation was, straight-up, the Pet Shop Boys. And, no shit, it's a bit embarrassing how ubiquitous they are, not only contributing three of their own songs, but also popping up on Electronic's, Boy George's, and Dusty's two tracks. Like, did I have any other music? But in reality, the PSB just happened, at least in my mind back then, to be the most available personification of the sonic theme I wanted for the compilation, which was this: moody electronic tracks with Huge Synth Washes. On most of these songs, it sounded like the artists created the backing tracks by simply holding one key down on their synthesizers, and maybe changing their finger position every twenty minutes. The effect, quite uniformly, was sweeping, lush, dreamy. It would be, I thought, the perfect kind of music to soundtrack all those people in the gallery as they walk, in melancholic slo-mo, from photo to photo. That's what happens in galleries, right?

Great theme, although it was in the end not as persistent as it could have been. There are some tracks on the tape that are basically just ballads ("Meet Me In The Morning" was a tinkly one and Bananarama's rare b-side a spooky electronic one, but Andy Pawlak's -- a little known singer on whom I need to do a full-on post some day -- was just piano-based). And there is also that detour into new agey Enyaism with Praise's track. But the songs were all dreamy, even when that dreaminess -- there's even a great track from the Dream Academy! -- came from touches other than a synth wash. (I have also, independent of this context, written about a couple of the songs.)

I think that the song that best captures the feel of what I was trying to do is "My Army Of Lovers," quite possibly my fave thing by Alexander Bard's old group. That's saying something, since I would therefore be ranking it ahead of "Crucified." Sonically, it's a pretty atypical track for them, not being a Hi-NRG stomper. Lyrically, however, it's as nonsensical as the rest of their work, although it does at least allude to the Theban army of gay lovers from which the group took its name. But I love it in all its vague pretensiousness, from the opening lines ("A time to go, a time to live, a place to be, a love to give") to the spoken French bit in the middle. Even the weird "eek eek ah, eek eek ah" refrain is oddly moving, and the little piano riff, which interrupts and gives color to the otherwise dominant synth washes, thrills me even now. Can't you imagine how perfect it sounded in the gallery? I wonder which of my friends I can convince to put on an art show, which can't be difficult, just so that I can do this again.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Lucky Soul, "Ain't Never Been Cool" (2006)

We are dorkiest when we're in love, because being in love allows us to be huge dorks. "I ain't never been cool," Ali Howard from Lucky Soul declares. "Do what you want, do what you want to/Say what you want, to who you want to/Be what you want, be who you want to/Love what you want, love who you want to."

As that pronoun shift suggests, this glorious song is only partly about being love's fool. It no doubt also alludes to the possibility that, like the Pipettes (who have been attracting an odd, and to me inexplicable, share of haters), Lucky Soul may, if they become as big as they deserve to, also get trashed for their retro Spectorish sound. (Of which we've been getting quite a few perfect examples this decade. 2002: McAlmont & Butler's "Falling." 2005: The Raveonettes' "Ode To L.A.," the Guillemots' "Trains To Brazil," Johnny Boy's "You Are The Generation...." 2006: "Pull Shapes," or We Are The Pipettes tout court, and now this, although you could also make a good case for any of Lucky Soul's previous songs: the moodier "Lips Are Unhappy," or the track they obviously named in my honor, "My Brittle Heart." And perhaps their entire forthcoming album, The Great Unwanted, due March 2007.)

So, say it now before they get their claws in you: "Do what you want, do what you want to." Shout it loud, shout it proud.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The 411, "Dumb" (2004)

I spent most of the weekend beginning to pack up my apartment. (I'm moving. Where to? Who knows? I'm trying the homeless thing for a while! Awesome!)

The movers provide me the boxes I need; since they believe in recycling (i.e., are trying to save a buck), these are old ones that previous clients of theirs have used before. On the boxes are therefore written all manner of descriptions that keep me amused and occupied as I prepare to de-occupy. "Kitchen." "Bedroom Toys." "Australia Slides" ("Aaannndd...," I think, "Australia's safe at home!"). "Jen :) " (to distinguish her from the other daughter in the family, "Jen :( " undoubtedly).

One says, with simple eloquence, "DUMMY."

I have narrowed down its meaning to three possibilities:

1. The previous user of the box made an honest living as a ventriloquist.

2. Or: he was a secret agent. His relocation therefore needed to be a cunning one; to prevent evil doers from hijacking his boxes and stealing his world-important stuff, he had to set up an elaborate kriss-kross double-cross red-kross system whereby some boxes really had things in them, while others were just decoys.

3. The box is mocking me in my hour of stress. Fuck you too, box. Your father is square, and yo' mama gets around so much that she might as well be made of recycled fiber. Oh, SNAP!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Jamiroquai, "Runaway (Alan Braxe and Fred Falke Remix)" (2006)

In either my first or second year of college, I was really excited to have the chance to take a class on postmodernism with a fairly famous, and popular-on-campus, professor. This was barely the 90s, so such courses were still quite rare. Looking back, I doubt that I got that much out of it, intellectually; the readings were complex, infuriating, and way over my head, and I didn't know my Lyotard from my unitard.

Still, it was nice to have license to analyze pop culture and mass media. I remember dropping in on that professor's office hours to gush about electronic music and how it was, I dunno, obviously capable of redefining the Benjaminian aura. He must had been so patient, sitting through my precious bullshit without gnawing off his own arm. I left that "discussion" by leaving behind for him a cassette tape. It was filled with exciting new music that I had taped off my scratchy BBC world service radio (and I think "Being Boring," on which I would write a paper, was also on there).

At the next lecture, he played my tape for all 300 students while setting up, and it gave me such a twirl. He didn't comment on any of it, but being warm-up background music was still an accomplishment. I was the support act. Any moment now, I thought, looking around at my classmates, they would all rise up and spontaneously break into dance, because Adamski's "Killer" (just entering the UK charts! Hot!) was streaming through the lecture hall speakers, and how could anyone resist that bassline? The aura was about to turn and flee! Get ready!

The Alan Braxe and Fred Falke remix of Jamiroquai's "Runaway" almost seems to be paying homage to that bassline, although the French maestros also put it through a filter that mutates it from moment to moment, and gives it extra bounce. And on top, a gurgling synth riff repeats over and over -- and, oh yeah, Jay Kay, he of the stupid hats, sings a ditty as well, but that's pretty much incidental to the proceedings, as it should be -- and it's a heady and irresistible mixture. It's all I can do not to hunt the professor down and send him another tape.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Josh Rouse, "Givin' It Up" (2006)

Inasmuch as I had a mental picture of Josh Rouse before this -- and I effectively didn't -- it would be: mild-mannered, a bit of a milquetoast, perhaps, or akin to beige wallpaper. Maybe not as smurfy as John Mayer, but certainly no more or less exciting than José González.

You're a Depressed Drunk

You know that distinct taste of tears and vodka real well.

"Givin' It Up" is about being a little too enamored of drink, and finally deciding that it is time to kick the habit. There are, of course, many kinds of drunks in the world -- the famed melancholic and the aggressive drunks only begin to scratch the surface -- but, still, I'm not sure I can picture someone like Josh stumbling around. He's not exactly Pete Doherty, or even Amy Winehouse.

"But don't look so surprised," Josh tells me, and so I give him the benefit of the doubt. The song features two terrific strings motifs: there is the four-bar passage that you hear right at the start of the song, and which recurs throughout. And on the middle eight ("There were far too many lies/I was way out of line"), there is also a wonderful snatch of strings that make the segment sound especially vital and urgent. The strings imbue the song with joy, as if Josh has actually succeeded in ridding himself of the addiction. Maybe he has. He does, after the bender of the night, wake "up the next day," "pack up the car and put [himself] in a hospital bed, because [he] need[s] some help to change." But even during that bender, he already decides: "In my drunken state I claim/That I'm giving it up for good/Gotta tell you dear, that was a bad time/I was on the ground crawling on all fours." Yes. He is that kind of drunk: the (self-)conscious kind, who, even in the depths of inebriation, retains perspective and the presence of mind to realize what he has to do when the haze wears off. Perspective! Presence of mind! Bah! Seems antithetical to the very spirit of getting drunk. No. I wouldn't know anything about that kind of drunk.

Monday, November 13, 2006

All Saints, "Flashback" (2006)

In one way of telling the story, Big Beat came and went faster than you can say "Fatboy Slim." In another narrative, it, like many other genres of music -- much as matter is neither created nor destroyed -- simply stayed around in other forms. "Flashback," the second best song on All Saints' comeback album Studio 1, employs a big, brassy backing track that recalls in equal amounts the glory days of Chemical Brothers and, appropriately enough, given the song's title, big band jazz. But then again, the similarity was probably there all along; the booty-shaking that is the natural response to both just punctuates it.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Hue and Cry, "I Refuse" (1987)/"Remote" (1988)/"Peaceful Face" (1989)/"Stars Crash Down" (1991)/"Sign 'O' The Times" (1999)

With the benefit of hindsight, it's clear that that the foremost question on British minds in the year 1987 was not, "Will Maggie win reelection and become the longest serving Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool during the early 19th century?" Rather, what obsessed your typical British citizen from Land's End to John o' Groats was this query: "Wait, which one is Hugh again? And which one is Cry?"

Of course, the answer is "neither." Much as there wasn't a Godley and a Creme, or a Peaches and a Herb, or a Salt and a Pepa ("Wait, what?" - Ed.), Hue and Cry is made up of Scottish brothers Greg and Pat Kane. If I remember right, the siblings at points talked about their band moniker as having some sort of political implication -- the term did originally refer to a kind of almost vigilante law -- which would be in keeping with their intellectual leanings (the sleeve of the band's debut album offers a definition of "nominalism," and namechecks Herbert Marcuse and Walter Benjamin. Yes, quite). But it wasn't an especially memorable point, nor a particularly convincing one. I would like to think that the name was more appropriate in that the brothers in those early days were famously combative -- they were Noel and Liam before Noel and Liam -- but that may just be me.

The band's first hit was the funky "Labour Of Love," which was possibly some sort of anti-Thatcher track; it reached #6 in 1987. This was a time when the chart was dominated by lots of white boy soul bands, ranging from Wet Wet Wet to Brother Beyond to Curiosity Killed The Cat to Johnny Hates Jazz. While it's always difficult to draw lines between authentic and faux versions of a sound, Hue and Cry's blue-eyed soul was always superior to those other bands', in my mind, if much less commercial. Indeed, "Labour Of Love" would be the band's biggest hit; the two follow-up singles from the Seduced and Abandoned debut album both missed the Top 40. But I prefer one of them to "Labour Of Love": "I Refuse" has the former's conviction, but cloaks it in a kind of slick, smooth slinkiness. The guitar is especially divine, and Pat's vocals are more multi-dimensional.

A year later, the band issued its second album, Remote, and I was surprised by how much I loved it. The record used more synthesizers, and seemed a little less obsessed with being "funky." Greg has since characterized the album as them "showing off basically and it ended up being so over-produced." But I loved it precisely for that reason: I mean, I like shiny things. Accordingly, some of the lyrical grandstanding of the debut album was replaced by more modest, but therefore more approachable themes. The second and most successful single from the album encapsulated this perfectly: "Looking For Linda" was a poignant character sketch, and makes it point about class without anvillious means. "Violently," "Dollar William," the groovy "Under Neon," the shimmering ballad "Where We Wish To Remain," and the closer "Family Of Eyes" all hold up equally well, but my favorite song is the title track. It's a simple tale about the paradoxes of feeling far away from someone: "I am dead on the end of your wire/Till you twist and pull it /The tension is all that we'll ever have/May as well use it." I especially love the harmonies on the chorus -- the way the Kanes' voices split on the phrase "remote from you now," thereby perfectly illustrating the point of the song -- and indeed, the poetic phrase embedded in that chorus: "remote as old diary phrases."

Reacting to the "over-produced" nature of Remote, the Kanes decided, before starting on their third proper album, to "remind [them]selves of exactly what Hue and Cry is about -- that everything [they] can communicate through big productions and great backing bands, [they] can also do just with piano and voice." (A slightly rockist notion, but we'll let it slide.) Those words come from the sleeve of Bitter Suite, a live acoustic album that the band released the following year, and which was also packaged as the second disc of Remote (I found a copy at the Princeton Record Exchange for US$3.99, yay.) Consisting of stripped down versions of their own songs -- "Looking For Linda" and "Remote" both get reworked -- alongside covers (Kate Bush's "The Man With The Child In His Eyes," Robert Wyatt's "Shipbuilding," Thelonius Monk's "Round Midnight"...), it's a excellent album, and probably the Hue and Cry record I've listened to the most over the years. An outstanding track from the collection, quite sensibly picked as its single, is "Peaceful Face," an original Kane ballad about finding tranquility that contains some typically vivid -- though some might say overwrought and purple -- metaphors: "The wind makes a noise in the leaves/And the calm on your face, I want to believe/Through troubles contort and constrain/Yet I know you'll return to peace, once again/Like a moon on fire, or a silver wave/Bring a peaceful face to me again/Like a heart in chains, or a hole in flames/Bring a peaceful face to me again."

And then, tears: in 1991, Hue and Cry released their next album, which -- oddly, seeing how much I enjoyed the preceding efforts -- pretty much slipped under my radar. Well, perhaps not too surprising: none of the singles from the album made a splash, and the album proved difficult to find in the stores. I remember somehow hearing the title track on the radio, and being arrested by, if nothing else, the melodramatic title phrase. "My axis is spinning out of line/my emotions are like meteors on fire/such a starvellous sound/when those stars crash down": I'm a sucker for any stars-related trope, and if you add a word "starvellous" (starvellous!) to the mix, I'm pretty much helpless to resist. Years later, I came across a cheap copy of the album, and while the title song was as captivating as I remembered, the rest of the album felt like its moment, inasmuch as it even had one, had passed.

I lost sight of the band after that, and, unfortunately, so did their record company. Circa severed ties after Stars Crash Down in their opinion under-performed commercially (even though it reached #10 on the UK albums chart); the brothers consequently released their fourth album (Truth and Love) on their own label, and then began making more specialized big band and jazz albums. Some years back, I came across one of those jazz efforts in a HMV sale (it was 99 cents -- sorry, boys), and picked it up for old times' sake. It's...interesting. Yeah. If you must sample something from it, an obvious candidate would be their cover of Prince's "Sign 'O' The Times," which the band, ditching most of the song's original melody, reimagines as a kind of jazzy be-bop number. You've been warned.

In April of last year, Hue and Cry returned to the British consciousness by participating in ITV's Hit Me Baby One More Time. In their heat, they beat The Real Thing (?), Hazel O'Connor (...), China Black (!), and Sinitta (!!) by performing "Labour Of Love" and covering "Crazy In Love"; this advanced them to the finals, where they apparently came in a close second to Shakin' Stevens (!!!). It's not clear if their cause was helped or hindered by the fact that, with their preemptively shaved heads, they now look a bit like Right Said Fred.

But Shakin' Stevens, my friends. Shakin'. Frickin'. Stevens.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Jamelia, "Hustle" (2006)

Not a real post for you today. But you could consider reading my contributions to Enthusiastic But Mediocre's Chart Challenge of Death: Croatia! I'm the panelist "BL," obviously. I noticed that Edward started off by gushing about Margaret Berger's "Will You Remember Me Tomorrow," and coincidentally Jessica at Into The Groove also blogged that song yesterday. Great minds, etc..

I have also continued to blurb about some singles for the Stylus jukebox, albeit under a name you may not associate with me. In the latest edition, I talk about Eddie Murphy (?), dead eyes (??), constipation (???), and arse-licking (of course). As you do when you review the latest singles. Um, the last two items are not in the same sentence, thankfully.

On the other hand, I didn't write this review, but Daft Monk makes an interesting case that I might as well have. I make some noises of gratitude and agreement in his comment box.

Oh, what the hell, let's have a song. An appropriate one, in light of that last item. I never wrote about Jamelia's new album, Walk With Me. Part of it is that my favorite song is also Edward's: the fantastic closing track "Hustle." A few weeks ago -- which is to say, very many weeks after I first started listening to the song -- I suddenly realized that the backing track, with its orchestral stabs, is essentially "Eye Of The Tiger." Thief! Sort of! A bloody marvellous one!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Margaret Berger, "Will You Remember Me Tomorrow" (2006)

"Hey -- would you like fries with that?"

"You know, if you like this CD, you might also enjoy that one."

"Can you help me discover more music that I'll like?"

I find suggestive selling a fascinating phenomenon, especially when it comes to music. Its logic is both blindingly brilliant, but on some level also presumptuous and bizarre: you like this band? Then HAVE EVEN MORE OF THE SAME!! The void in your being is obviously so big that one artist can't possibly fill it!!!

Suggestive selling positions musical acts as complements to each other. An underlying idea is that your love of, say, schaffel is vast, bottomless, and pathetic enough that you need some Rachel Stevens to go with your Goldfrapp. There's sufficient pie for everyone. But there's often an intriguingly fine line between complementarity, and competition. For a moment in 1995, I was annoyed to hear Dubstar talked about as a new Saint Etienne; if I were pettier -- I mean, even pettier than I actually am -- I might have stubbornly refused to listen to the former out of principle. Yet, on the other hand, I had no qualms about enjoying the music of Camouflage in the late 80s, even though they were so obviously influenced by Depeche Mode as to be a tribute band in all but name.

Why the disparity in my reactions? The difference, I think, lies in whether the "original" musical act has reached what I consider their deserved level of success and acclaim. To some extent, I must have understood that listening to Camouflage would never take me, or anybody, away from Depeche (besides, it wasn't like I smoopily loved Martin Gore and company). In the case of Dubstar, however, I feared that the band wouldn't just be a complement, but a replacement for Saint Etienne -- not necessarily for me, whose devotion to Cracknell, Wiggs, and Stanley would never waver, but for the "ignorant" public. And I felt like I had cause to worry: the comparisons between Dubstar and Etienne were most pronounced when "Not So Manic Now," and "He's On The Phone" were released within weeks of each other, and neck and neck in the UK charts. On a Now That's What I Call Music! CD I own, the tracks in fact followed each other. Irksome: Saint Etienne hadn't -- and never have -- achieved the level of popular success they deserve, the commercial peak of "He's On The Phone" coming years into their history. Now Dubstar merrily skips up, and charts right around the same spot. The cheek! If I weren't careful, they wouldn't be complements! Stop selling them to me as such! They're competitors, in a fucking fight to the death, man!

This is all to say that I -- and I suspect, many people -- am most at ease when one musical act, in relation to another, fits into, not even a complementary slot, but a supplementary one. You love Kylie; perhaps you have, by some miniscule chance, a bit of room left over for the tiny unthreatening little thing that is her sister Dannii...? She would be just an inconspicuous...appendix. She won't turn all Eve Harrington on your ass and usurp the original, I swear! Well, not unless you want her to.

Margaret Berger was a runner-up in 2004's edition of Norwegian Idol. Although her debut album Chameleon got pushed out quickly later that year, I only heard of her a few months ago thanks to her single "Samantha." And now, Margaret has her second album out, titled Pretty Scary Silver Fairy. When she or her work has been talked about recently, she is, almost unfailingly, always mentioned in the same breath as fellow countrywoman Bertine Zetlitz (who has also had singles and albums out recently, which no doubt played into this).

You see the problem. My love of Bertine is well-documented, not least on this blog. Given that Bertine is largely and undeservedly unknown outside of Norway, you can imagine how ill-disposed I initially felt towards Margaret. The people on message boards who went around declaring Margaret's new album better than Bertine's My Italian Greyhound couldn't possibly be right, and were likely just affecting a stance because supporting the "underdog" and making "unexpected" judgments was, in message board-land, a thing to do. Bastards.

"Thankfully," I didn't particularly like "Samantha": the song uses an overly heavy synth backing track, which just shows up the waffle-thinness of Margaret's voice (despite the comparisons to Bertine, Margaret's voice is more reminscient of Annie's -- they were nominated for "best newcomer" at the Norwegian grammies in the same year, in fact). And there is really not much by way of melody. I still don't like the track, now that I've heard the whole album. And some of Pretty Scary Silver Fairy likewise misses its mark: the first two tracks ("Silver Fairy" and "Seek I'll Hide") also feature flat, booming, and oppressive synth backdrops, and Margaret sings with her lower register. The effect isn't great -- they sound like poppier but bad Ladytron songs -- and "Seek I'll Hide" compounds the problem with a squicky lyric ("Seek, I'll hide...I'll let you into my inside." As Summer would say on The OC: Ew!).

But there are a couple of tracks on the album that are quite, quite excellent. "Get Physical" has an urgent, bleepy electro backing that sounds like someone took all the best Radio Slave tracks and boiled them down into a seven-inch version -- and there are violins on top of it all. "I'm Gonna Stay After Summer" sounds less sleek, more plinky-plonk, but that perfectly suits the pretty, intentionally "naive" melody and lyric ("The winter is cold and cruel/I wanna be warm with you/Make me wanna stay now/Make me wanna stay now").

But best of all is "Will You Remember Me Tomorrow." Like the other two songs, this one allows Margaret to showcase her higher register (as track three, it's the first one on the record to do so). When she does, it bestows on her songs a much better sense of contrast, as her girlie vocals float above the oftentimes bass-heavy instrumentation. "Will You Remember Me Tomorrow" begins with that most quintessential of bass-heavy backing: a modified electroclash riff. But it doesn't stay that way for long: as the chorus hits, the track switches to a jaunty, quick-step shuffle, and, heavens, the handclaps start. After the middle eight, there is also a lovely bit when everything except a deek-deek-deek keyboard sound drops out; but then the drums return, and the handclaps come back in, and it all starts up again. Handclaps can never come back soon or often enough for me. In the end, Pretty Scary Silver Fairy has some real keepers, though it is not as good as Bertine's My Italian Greyhound -- but we perhaps knew that in advance going in. I will remember you tomorrow, Bertine, and tomorrow and tomorrow!