Feel the Ark-ness
YOU SAY YOU WANT SOME glitter-rock lyrics? Well, that’s good, because I just happen to have some. You see, I’ve been listening all morning to The State of the Ark (Virgin), the new record by Swedish rock & rollers the Ark, who’re playing L.A. next week.
Take this, for example: “.?.?. Now you don’t know me but you may have seen/me rocking the rules of aesthetic hygiene/My talk is dirty but my boots are clean/Now isn’t that worth a scream?”
Now that is a glitter-rock lyric if I ever heard one.
Or try this: “New York’s a goldmine for Rock City Wankers/Pilgrims of sleaze and of nocturnal pancake/Are you a poet, electrical junkie?/Or are you just another little Rock City wankie? .?.?.”
Furthermore, I haven’t heard such overt Sweet-style vocals since the Darkness, I guess. “Deliver Us From Free Will” is a cross between Erasure and the Sweet. That’s right — Erasure and the Sweet. You see, the leader of the Ark, whose name is Ola Salo, told his band that for this, their third LP, he wanted complete artistic control, and he wanted to concoct a pure alloy of disco and rock. Funny, we hear that’s what Bowie fan Justin Timberlake has in mind for his next record. No kidding.
And why not? Glitter is the salt of all pop music. Just a sprinkle of glitter here and there will make any song taste better. Glitter rock is an equal-opportunity ingredient: You’ll find traces of it in all the best radio pop of the past 30 years, from country to rap.
Of course, more overtly glitter rock bands like the Ark always have a tough time of it in the U.S. (Witness the Darkness, to whom the Ark gets compared — which is probably fair.) This is one of the things I rue most about our proud nation, one of our flaws that I hope we will outgrow before it destroys us. :)
SAW THE RACONTEURS SHOW the other night. What a mess. I had a dream about it afterward, about the messiness of it. That’s how much of a mess it was. Every band has a show like that from time to time; it’s just that they usually happen with smaller bands at much smaller venues. You know: The show where the singers can’t hear themselves in the monitors, and maybe someone loses his voice (specifically, Jack White on “Broken Boy Soldier”), and then for no apparent reason the PA system starts crackling horribly and people start plugging their ears with their fingers a little bit. Not that they don’t like the band and the music, but they sense impending disaster.
Disaster never arrived, but you could tell that not so very long ago these guys were playing together at a Detroit bowling alley for their friends, and the only reason they were suddenly performing for a sold-out Henry Fonda Theater was because they were already famous.
What surprised me most about the show (besides Jack White giving a shout-out to his “Latino brothers and sisters”) was the dewdness of the audience. It seemed to be about 90 percent male, and they were goofy for Jack White’s lengthy, sinuous, evil American guitar solos. The men love them some Jack White. But you see, that’s one thing I admire about guys: The dudes are down for the dudes. The dudes like it when dudes get together and start a dude band. (If this had been a girl super-group, I doubt a proportional number of girls would have turned out.) I wonder, though, how long this band can sustain the delicate emotional dynamic required of two lead singers who both play guitar and write songs. (I always remember that scene in Almost Famous when the lead singer gets pissed: “You were supposed to be the guitarist with mystique!”)
I heard their morning gig the next day at Amoeba was fantastic, so go figure.
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