Twice now I have encountered the magnificent word “Threnodies” and I still haven’t looked it up. It means “a poem, speech, or song of lamentation, especially for the dead; dirge; funeral song.” What a splendid word. The first place I found it was on an intensely cerebral Storm and Stress album with a stupidly long title. The second place was on this TFUB album which also has an intensely long name and cerebral demeanour. Serendipity.
There are many things I like about this album. Firstly, I had to re-title it because the fucking thing wouldn’t go into iTunes because it broached one of the Apple Nazi Naming Statutes. The only other album I have ever owned which defeated iTunes was the last album by Arab Strap which went through a spasm when you tried to import it or play it in iTunes. I don’t know how they did it but I applauded Arab Strap long and hard for that and I applaud TFUB for their obstinacy. Anyway how can you not love band who give their songs titles like “Who Walked All Night with their shoes full of blood on the Showbank docks waiting for a door in the East River to open to a room full of Steamheat and Opium”. It takes longer to say the title than to listen to the song. No dropped vowels, no internet referencing meme bullshit and no symbols; just an appreciation of language.
The second thing I like is the cover art, a weird montage of kaleidoscope views of what I assume to be New York (possibly in the past). I’m not that familiar with New York (I’m on a nodding acquaintance with the old one) but it seems likely, what with the continual referencing of the Big Apple throughout the album (Hee hee I got to say Big Apple). The third and final thing I like about it The Fucked Up Beat is the music. Imagine “Endtroducing” but instead of Shadow being allowed free reign to root through everything, he was forced to utilize broken gramophone records, warped charity shop novelty flexi-discs and long dead sounds like analogue phones ringing, steamboats and typewriters. This album acts almost as an audio memorial to a world of sounds that some of us have forgotten and others of us will never hear, but don’t pull a face and go “urgh….soundscape” because it’s not. The whole thing is underpinned with weird little broken basslines, twenties jazz horns and plaintive spacious piano that creates a spiritual brother but emotional opposite to The Avalanches “Since I Left You”, as if they released that elusive second album forty years late and with a whole bunch of grey hairs that they didn’t have the first time round. Go get it. It’s free.