Black Mirrors

They reckon that babies respond to music heard in the womb, and that therefore it’s a good idea to play lots of soothing Bach during pregnancy if you want a gentle and intelligent infant.

Considering what I’ve been listening to these past few months, our child will be an alt-rock addict who swears like a bent Queensland copper in the dock. After all, it’s been my last chance to listen to all those Parental Advisory albums on the lounge-room stereo until the kid is past the angelic stage. After this it’s iPods on the bus until puberty, unless we want our cherub to turn into Chucky. God knows what I’ll do when he or she discovers this site and types everyone’s favourite four letters into that search box.

I’ve made at least some effort to play a few of the right albums, though, so that we can soothe the baby to sleep while listening to our faves at the same time: Lemon Jelly, Kings of Convenience, Bebel Gilberto. It’ll be an interesting experiment, but I’m not convinced about the long-term effects. The only music I listen to from 1967 is Sgt. Pepper’s and Sinatra’s album with Antonio Carlos Jobim, and I’m not sure Mum was listening to either at the time.

But if the kid likes the Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible that’ll be Exhibit A, because I’ve been belting it out like a Gold Coast sergeant pursuing his inquiries.

Not many albums have an opener like “Black Mirror”, which just at the moment I could listen to on repeat all day: a dark, swirling brew of strings, piano, and growling feedback. “Keep the Car Running” is a suitably insistent, up-tempo successor, and after the almost-whispered interlude of the title track things get seriously gothic with “Intervention”—Saint-Saëns does indie rock anthem. And that’s only the first time they wheel out the church organ finale.

It’s a brilliant album, with only “Black Wave/Bad Vibrations” seeming a little weaker than the rest, and only because the production sounds a bit thin surrounded by those openers and such later tracks as “The Well and the Lighthouse”, “Windowsill” and the magnificent re-recording of “No Cars Go” (I tried listening to the original from their debut EP after three days of the remake, and now it too sounds seriously under-produced).

It’s a relief to hear such a successful second album (even though the 33-minute EP is longer than some albums, and should really count as the first). My previous bet for early 2007 was Bloc Party’s A Weekend in the City, but apart from a handful of tracks I can’t warm to it as I did their first. It’s musically experimental and daring, yes, but it’s also bleak. Like Damon Albarn’s latest side project The Good, The Bad & The Queen, it’s a portrait of contemporary urban Britain on a Thursday night in January: a dozen down-beat hand grenades rolled under the bed of Tony Blair. Intriguing, yes, but listen to this stuff on repeat and you’ll end up hunched over in your hoodie trying to fight off the shakes.

Still, at least they both beat the latest by the Kaiser Chiefs. Picked it up at the same time as Neon Bible, listened to it twice, figured I’d heard it all before, and released it from custody on a good behaviour bond. I predict a rout.

22 March 2007 · Music

you are killing me with those queensland lines. exxxxxcellent!

we are all on tenterhooks here. crossing fingers for a wee april fool. hope you're both doing well :)

Added by shauna on 22 March 2007.

Yes, you will grab a few minutes to tell us when heshe arrives, won't you?

I've never heard my parents swear. Well, my dad called someone a prat once when he was driving. That was under extreme provocation, however.

(The good example seems to have worked, too. On me, anyway.)

Added by K on 22 March 2007.

(Obsessively checking here to see whether the Newins has arrived...)

Added by K on 23 March 2007.

Fear not, I’ll keep everyone posted! Nothing yet...

Added by Rory on 23 March 2007.

Saw Arcade Fire at the Brixton Academy a week ago. F���ing tremendous. It was a bit like going to one of those Deep South revivalist tents from the early 20th Century. Very religious. As someone on the Culture Show said yesterday, 'they're like an army, but not a normal army, more like the Salvation Army'. If we're going for the military analogy, they remind me more of a rabble of deserters from the American War of Independence, two parts Southern Baptist, one part Gospel - fire and brimstone, but with a happy, clappy centre.

Added by James on 25 March 2007.

ooooh....exciting....hope it's fun...for someone at least!

Good luck Rory and Missus.

Added by Nomes on 27 March 2007.

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