12 July 2010

Bedhead - beheaded (1996, Trance Syndicate)

Outside the alliteration, “Beheaded” is a strange name for an album if you don't belong the the death metal scene. And Bedhead is from another flesh entirely, playing slow tempos with low-key vocas, as a long lost slowcore depressed child of the Velvet Undergound, or more precisely as an hypothetical crossbreed between a slower and quieter Seam and a less dreamy, more intense, Galaxie 500.

“Beheaded” is the best of their three albums, their most coherent achievement, not a bad song, with detailed and subtle song structures, a nice balance between melodies and tension, something that can pass the time when most of their contemporaries were just ephemeral. Of course there is an absolute late eighties / early nineties indie rock vibe behind their songwriting, they are part of history, already old but absolutely dignified.

If there is despair in their music, it's the usual one, the bleakness of days, the weariness of the repetition of activities, the sparseness of sparkles that help us to stay upright, the little joys and smiles smoothing the rough edges. Songs are from a dark point of view, like “Beheaded”, to a not so dark and almost optimist perspective, like “the rest of the day” (“Since people are dying in almost every possible place / I'd rather not leave the bed here with you / Since there's a dead black cat scattered on my street / I'd rather stay here under the sheets”). Sometimes the windows are opened, “Left Behind”, and there is even autumnal sun light reaching the bedroom, 'What's missing”.

There is really no reason to leave the bed, and “Smoke” is another ode to extreme laziness : “From where I am I can smell the smoke / They're burning something - I don't want to know / Should I really sit here and wait / And hope it blows the other way / I wish I could see and turn off my lungs when I run into poisoned air / Which may finally be everywhere”. Simply brilliant. “Burned out” could have been a lost Seam song, a beautiful emotional melancholic lullaby about catalepsy or heavy depression, and “Roman Candle” could have been written by Dean Wareham during his Galaxie 500 years.

Slowly it's time to leave the room or at least to think about it before it's too late, on “Withdraw” (“There's blood on the table cloth / it's there on the pillow case / Leave it all here / leave this place”) which turns out to be the noisier track of the whole album with its sense of urgency. We are outside on the surprisingly up tempo melody of “Felo de Se” but already back in the room with the gravity and moving sadness of the fantastic “Lares and Penates”. “Losing Memories” is the quietest song, about the silence of an empty room left by someone, and about the disquieting materiality of an absence.

Maybe it could make sense too to draw parallels with thematic Pedro The Lion record like “Control” or “Winners never quit”, but Bedhead never say too much, they leave an important par to the unsaid. A great album that doesn't pretend to be great, restrained but compelling.

No comments:

Post a Comment