07 February 2010

Soft Bomb: A Background Affair

I’m sitting in my underwear listening to Soft Bomb by the Chills. Comparing it to its brilliant predecessor Submarine Bells is a mistake, but I always do. Soft Bomb isn’t as good. It’s like the younger sibling with the black eye.

What’s so wrong with it? For a start it’s about five songs too long. It’s a little too glossy on the production, especially the drums (esp. the cymbals); the strong songs suffer from muddled and indulgent weaker ones. I suppose a lot of people think all of Martin Phillip’s work is indulgence, but that’s just not true.

Others made the same mistake
Men like Wilson, Barrett, Walker, Drake
On the journey they were forced to make.

- Song For Randy Newman etc.

The notion of being an artist weighs like a fog on Soft Bomb. By ’92 Phillips was cornered by corporate wolves: too much cocaine, yes men and the burden of ‘cracking’ the US market took their toll. When the crack came, it was in his head and I’m not sure he’s ever recovered his creative self. The principle culprit to the Chills commercial failure was timing– releasing their best work when no one was listening and offering nothing when people were. Well, the masses are asses.

With all that negative conjecture in mind, I still listen to this album a lot. In a weird way I like flawed albums more than so-called ‘masterpieces’. Phillips has a wonderful way with atmosphere and in my book (which is fucking massive) he’s one of the finest lyricists NZ has produced.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Stevie Nicks' pageboy

Dead animals, alive animals, idiotic things written on walls by anonymous losers, naked things, acid, cheese burgers and music. --------