Sunday, October 10, 2021

#5 The Last Days Are Taking Forever - The Papertiger Sound

If one mood links almost all the albums on this list it must be melancholia. Looking back at the posts for each of them it strikes me how, even for the ones that aren't steeped in, drenched in, drowned in loss, longing and regret, I've unnerringly picked out tracks that are. 

I seem to have some kind of lock on bittersweet despair. I don't know why. I'm pretty cheerful most of the time. I thought I was.

Even by these heartsick standards, the Papertiger Sound stand out. Or back. Shuffling their feet, twiddling the toggles on their duffle-coats, humming a tune only they can hear. Defeated, dejected, unable to meet even the lowest bar for pop music, a false smile. And among their slim, neglected catalog slumps this, their masterpiece: The Last Days Are Taking Forever, a sentiment to chill the soul if ever I heard one.

Just seven tracks. Hardly counts as an album, does it? Scarcely twenty minutes long, all told. There's no video footage I can find of any of the songs. The best I can offer is a YouTube playlist with the same static picture of the album sleeve for every one. The seven songs have racked up a grand total of 116 views between them over the six years since they were uploaded.

This is my fifth favorite album of the last twenty-five years? Yes. Yes, it is. It really is.

Forlorn, lovetorn, careworn, hopeless, hapless, helpless, trapped and failing and falling, the fading echoes of these seven songs drift as clouds across my inner landscape. Forever, or so it feels. I love this album. It hurts to listen.

Fragments break away. The glorious chorus of Lower Canada. I can't entirely make it out. It might be "a le Corbusier" although why it would be I can't imagine. I've been singing that for years, now. I don't care if it's wrong. It's right to me.

This is right, from Wrap Yourself In Light, the track with the title, not the title track. There is no title track. Spiritual companion to Lana's incomprehensibly wonderful "The Greatest", in whose company it stands proud, as almost no song could."I watch the city as it burns at night. The last days are taking forever. I count to ten and hide away. You wouldn't know anyway. You wouldn't know anyway. Close your eyes". Those are the words. Some of them. Not as they come.


The mournful, elegaic swell of Emperor as it opens "Days they wasted in the sun..." before resolving into the heroic, brave, affirmation "I know I want to do it again.

Bright River stares at sunlight reflected in the water until there's nothing, nothing else. "Oh, this bright river" ripples on, again, again, again.

I haven't even mentioned Hockney  even though it might be the best song on the album. Or Ivy, perhaps the bleakest. I suppose I can't embed them all. Shouldn't, anyway.  Always leave something in reserve. Something to be found.

Finish with the warped, scratched glitch of Cold Rehearsal, then. Just one coherent, revelatory annunciation: "I'll know when I get there".

I did. I am. We are. From the first moment until this. The Papertiger Sound. Remember the name.

Everything they've done is pure magic but this is the most magical of all. The dense, layered arrangements, the building tension of the drum patterns, the soaring, rising, reaching, vocals, searching for a world where something, anything, makes some kind of sense. Because nothing does. Nothing ever does.

No, nothing ever does, not when work as deep and pure and true as this goes unheard, unloved, unnoticed. 

Well, not by me. And perhaps not by someone reading this, maybe not you, maybe not now, but sometime, one day. 

We can hope. We can always hope. 

Can't we?

The last days, they're taking forever.

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