Stereo Mind Game by Daughter

Listening to Daughter’s new album: Stereo Mind Game, out 07th Apr 2023.

Thoughts on a track-by-track basis:

Intro is like an orchestra warming up. Then a voice appears and it’s like someone is deep in the ocean panicking, drowning but still rising towards the light and then finally hitting the surface and dragging in a deep fulfilling breath,

Be On Your Way is like someone trying to turn an old-style song into something new with the aid of a few glitchy effects. Then it becomes orchestral. Then it plinky-plonkily descends back into the ocean with only a trail of bubbles to mark its passing.

Party is sludge. A pedestrian song that is repetitive in structure and feel. No peaks, no crescendos, just a build towards something a little louder and fuller. Reminds me of one of those ploddy goth album fillers from a band you’ve never heard of. Also, the video is awful: the singer is the only person who features and she obviously doesn’t want to be there.

Dandelion is moderately interesting. A drum features too strongly. Plaintive guitar(s). A bass lurks underneath the drums, mirroring but too far under to matter. Breathy vocals float effortlessly above it all. Two voices from the same person. An electric guitar with a nice riff sometimes appears. Near the end is some kind of a battle between a synth, a guitar, another guitar with the other instruments providing a muddly ground for them to sail over. No vocals at the end.

Neptune takes us even further into early Cure territory. The voice redeems it all from being completely Bob Smithish. The singer’s doing something completely different here from all her other songs. She goes up and up and up and then, sweetly, switches to another (minor?) key. Then some bloke starts singing and it becomes a layered chorus with multiple voices singing the same refrain over and over until it almost resembles a football crowd. Then the lass does the same thing with her voice. Mellow and nice. I could get to like this one. Fade to silence.

Swim Back is held together by a fuzz-box bass. Some keyboard riffs echo in the back. The vocal is hissily-rendered sibilance. There’s a nice hitch in the song every now and again where it kinda draws to stop and then carries on after a beat.

Junkmail has a kind of a disco handclap backdrop and some interesting things happening in the far corners of the headphones. Spacey and interesting. This one will really grow on me. Whispered vocals echo the sung song. Then there’s those inexorable drums and the bass line that repeats and hypnotises.

Halftime break (for the footie).

Future Lover starts out nice. Some kind of glitchy fuzzy guitar with understated drumming and a nice stereo balance of this in one ear and that in another. Vocals are a bit sedate. Drumming continues to be interesting. That fuzzy guitar gets annoying but the bass starts up and gives a nice depth to the song. Some wailing near the end of the middle and a swirling guitar. Nicest song so far because of the variety of sounds. Fades out nicely leaving vocal and a minimal wash of sound in the background.

[Missed Calls] is an experimental piece, yes? Bit like Intro. Random sounds and loops. Snips of vocal punch in and out. Answering machine is one lyric. Maybe it’s snatches from one of those. It’s short anyway. Not going to get much sense I think.

Isolation is vocal over a single guitar to begin with. Perhaps the lyrics are important. A trill of keyboard. A doubling of the vocals. Lots going on that I can’t identify. Layers. Glockenspiel to end? Maybe. Peow sounds then it falls away.

To Rage sounds like it’s going to be an instrumental. No, it’s not. Underneath the sea kind of a song. Plucked guitar bubbles rising to a surface glimpsed far above. Understated. Calm. Long instrument break in the middle. Bass-driven. Echoey vocal starts up again. Fades out far too quickly for a mood piece. Oh, wait, it picks back up again and carries on in much the same vein. The more I go into this song the more I want to hear the lyrics. “Someone had to.” pause “Left were you thon.” (obviously misheard). Done.

Wish I Could Cross the Sea is the last track and this one really is like the other book-end to Intro. Sonic layers can get annoying if they repeat like the keyboard bit on this one but I can sense that I will be able to smudge it into the landscape after and while and just let it be part of the scenery. Particularly as there is such much more going on. Lots more. As well as the bass and a skittery drum I can hear an orchestral effect rising and falling on a couple of levels. One just dropped away leaving the strings and they just faced out and it’s done.

That’s it. Well worth another play I say!

I Am A Writer

Forget about me for a moment. Think about yourself. Do a check of where you’re at. Where are you? Read on while you acknowledge your location. It shouldn’t have taken more than a moment to say ‘in the loo’, ‘on the heath’, ‘under the bedsheets’ or something similar. Now let me ask you this: ‘what were you doing before you started reading this?’ I understand that you may need more time to answer this one because it requires accessing your memory and that can take time. However, if you’re thinking too much then you can fall back on something like ‘I clicked on the link in my email and arrived on your blog.’ You may even append the word ‘duh’ to your assertion if you think that I should have known already. Bear in mind, however, that as I write this, I have no idea who you are, where you’re at or where you came from. I’m a writer, not a psychic who can see into my future. That said, I’m going to ask you one more thing that will necessitate you doing precisely what I cannot. To whit, I need you to see into the future. Don’t worry, all will become clear. Here’s my next question: what are you going to do next?

I am a writer and I am in the throes of writing. You are a reader and you are, like it or not, in the throes of reading these words. I will stop writing and post these words. You will stop reading and do … something else. What? Tell me. What are you going to do? You’ve committed to reading thus far and so you might as well complete the task I have set. You have a Comment field below. Don’t be afraid to use it. I’m not going to say anything of note beyond this point and so you might as well stop reading now.

Under the table, a man was sitting and thinking of the war. Which war? The one in his mind. He thought about the armies that marched inside his head and the dreams he had, nightly, about things he could barely remember when he awoke, but which he knew were bad. Not bad in the sense of moral outrage, but more in the sense that they made him feel very uncomfortable about the fact that he had bookcases full of books that he barely touched whilst, in some poorer part of the world there were people who hadn’t the means to feed their love of literature. He was pretty sure these people existed but didn’t know their names, or their addresses. That didn’t stop him from feeling bad about it. Not did it stop the dreams.

The man was called David. An ordinary name. Not one that would excite interest at cocktail parties were he ever to be invited to one and consequently to be invited to share it. His parents were staid, solid members of a Christian-based religious community. But see: I’m bored with them already and so I won’t mention them again.

David is stirring. He has done thinking of the war for now and is emerging from underneath the table. The flap of the tablecloth raises and his face peers out. He wears black-framed spectacles that give his round face the appearance of an old owl. He blinks once in much the way you would expect and then his shoulders follow his head and, inevitably, his body follows. He’s thinking about his hair and how it might as well fall out now as wait thirty years for him to reach the grand age of forty-five. He likes his teeth, though. Teeth are useful. He intends to make good use of them before the day is done. It’s eight in the evening already and so he should hurry.

Ten minutes later he’s walking down by the river. The house backs onto the water and so this isn’t much of a feat. It’s dark, but he knows where he’s going. It’s secluded, but he knows he will not be alone. It’s clear to him that if he were to lie down on the ground now, someone would discover him before too long. He lies down.

Pretty soon someone trips over him and falls to the ground. The earth is soft. Muddy, in fact. There is a curse said that I’ll not relate here because David wouldn’t approve. When he hears it, he says something like ‘la-la-la’ in his mind until the echoes of the sound have died down and then he jack-knives his body until it is covering the mud-besmirched form of the man he has tripped. I’ll not tell you the name of the fallen man because that might lead you to feel some sympathy for him and for what’s going to happen to him next.

I’ve started watching a movie about JD Salinger who is, as you might remember, the author who wrote The Catcher in the Rye. Now, I’m not entirely sure what Rye is, not what a Catcher catches whilst in the Rye, even though I have read the book. But I do know what David does next. If you tell me what you’re going to do next, I’ll tell you by way of reply. David is real. The man whom David has tripped and pinned to the ground is real. The mud in which they lay has actual substance and the thoughts of war that David has in his head are real, as will be his dreams tonight.

Share with me.

What Goths Did Next

We all know what the goths did when goths were goths, but what did the goths do after they forsook gothness and became what they were afreewards? Well, listen up because I’m about to tell you.

They became people.

Yep, I know, that’s a shocker, right? Because, well, goths were so out there, weren’t they? You’ve got your Robert Smith of The Cure (he got fat), Nick Cave of The Birthday Party and The Bad Seeds (he became an author), Siouxie Sioux of The Banshees and The Creatures (… well, I’m not entirely sure what she’s doing now, but I’m sure she’s doing it with elan) and then there’s me.

Did you know I was a goth? Probably not; am I right? Even I didn’t really buy into my own gothness, and I was there! I mean, goth is all about black and spikes and shades and leather and I only walked that line to a certain extent. But hey, isn’t that true of us all? None of us are 100% dedicated to one cause. We have multiple facets to ourselves. That’s what makes us so fascinating.

For a start, I wore white. White jeans, white t-shirt (ripped (the t-shirt, not me)), white pointy boots and white bandana on my hair (only the once, though because some girls laughed at me on the bus, which put me right off). After that, I got darker. I switched to black canvas jeans and t-shirts with goth bands on them. And I got myself a leather biker-jacket (as you do). Oh, and swapped my boots for black pointy ones.

I only spiked my hair up once, as far as I remember. That was for a concert at Sheffield City Hall, where The Damned were playing. Which brings me back to what the goths did next. Some of them became amusing.

Captain Sensible is a prime example. He played guitar with The Damned but then, suddently, he became a pop star. Do you remember Happy Talk? Thebshow tune from the 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific? Well, Captain Sensible did a rather excellent cover version of it. Listen to it by clicking below (if you like):

I’d love to follow up all the other goth bands I knew and loved back then, but it’s time to cook dinner. All I have time for now is to share a playlist of my favourite goth songs that I made this afternoon. Feel free to check up on them yourselves and let me know. Here you go:

Hey, YouTube – Here’s Something for You

This is what happens when you try to dictate your thoughts into WordPress using an Android phone:

I used to be a big cure family as a kid and collected all the Albums you and Sarah singers that were coloured and probably many of them were a bit of money now they’re in the Attic anyway anybody wants them yeah I got a record player so listen to The Cure for a long time.

Here’s what I wanted to say:

I used to be a big fan of The Cure when I was a kid. I collected all their albums and limited edition singles and they’re probably worth a bit of money now, particularly as vinyl seems to be making a comeback (new albums being £50+ on the high street now). Anyway, they’re all in the attic gathering dust because I don’t even have a working record player these days.

For some reason or another, The Cure comes up on the news feed on my Android phone. Probably Google Assistant overheard me talking about the band one day and decided that I was still a fan. So this morning, I was reading my feed and an article came up that said that The Cure were putting the finishing touches to three new albums. I clicked on it and read the article and there, near the bottom, was a reference to the last studio album from the band, from back in 2008. It is called 4:13 Dream. And I thought to myself that I wouldn’t mind giving it a listen. I’ve never heard it before, so why not!

The Amazon Prime package I have doesn’t include this album so so I switched channels to YouTube, found The Cure’s account and looked at their playlists. Lo and Behold (whatever that means) 4:13 Dream was there and available for my listening pleasure. Except that listening in YouTube is not really a pleasure, is it? Because the listening experience is spoiled by all those frickin’ advertisements for things I have absolutely no interest whatsoever.

Don’t get me wrong; I know that there need to be ads. I know that ads are a part of YouTube’s funding model and that without them we would have to pay for their service (YouTube Premium costs £11.99 per month in the UK), but here’s my idea for you, YouTube: make your ads relevant!

By ‘relevant’ I don’t mean the content. I know that the internet has (really terrible) algorithms for content already. I know that because when I research and then buy a washing machine (for example) I see washing machine ads on all the sites I visit, including YouTube, for six months afterwards, completely ignoring the fact that I bought the machine three days after I did the research. So, no, it’s not the content that I have the problem with; it’s the music.

Every advert on YouTube comes with a piece of music in the background. Often it’s a completely anonymous, jingly, happy, poppy tune that’s completely at odds with the music I’m listening to. In fact, ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s completely dissonant. By this I mean that (for example) I’ll be listening to a lo-fi, low impact playlist that enables me to concentrate on my work. To have this playlist interrupted by a jangly pop song is… well, it’s bonkers, that’s what it is!

With today’s technology, it is entirely possible to ship an advert without music and for YouTube to append a context relevant piece of music at runtime. What that means practically is that the advert will not interrupt the listener with… Oh, wait – I’ve just realised the flaw in my logic: if the listener is not interrupted then they will not watch the ad. Unless, of course, the music is beautiful enough to make the listener pay attention. That would totally work!

So, yeah:

Dear Mr. & Mrs. YouTube,

Please instigate a revolution in your advertisement policy. Append beautiful songs that fit in with the mood of what is being played by your listeners to the adverts that you interrupt their listening pleasure with. The listeners will benefit, YouTube will benefit and your advertisers will benefit. More importantly I will be able to listen to 4:13 Dream by The Cure with pleasure.

Thanks for listening.

Robert C Day.