Here are the things that I already know about Syd Barrett:
- I know that he was in Pink Floyd
- I know that he went crazy
- I know that it is sad
- I also know that “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” is about him
I really like the way the front and the back covers of this album look and I also like how it says “File under POPULAR Male Vocal” in the corner on the back cover. (It’s hard to see in my picture, just trust me.)
I’ve never seen that on an album before, and all I can picture is this idea of an old man owning a record store for forever and then suddenly not knowing how to keep up with all the weird music from the 1960’s and 70’s, so he would rely on this guidance in the corner. “Popular, Male Vocal!” Thank you!
This album starts with a really beautiful intro of just a single guitar playing and then gets even prettier as the other instruments come in with a slight melancholy feel to it. Right away it’s reminding me of Brian Eno, but Brian Eno would have been influenced by Syd Barrett, right? I just asked Alex and he said “I think Brian Eno was doing his rock music a couple of years after this, but I Think Roxy Music was putting out music at this time, I’m not sure.”
So far, I’m really liking the quiet feel that this music has. The vocals have a way of feeling background yet still totally necessary, which I like. The second song, “Love Song" makes you sort of want to skip to it, and also lie perfectly still at the same time while listening to it and is making me think of Belle and Sebastian a little bit.
This is really, really good and I’m actually feeling a little bit mad that Alex has barely played this record in the 9 years that we have been together. I just said to him, “why have you never played this record?” And he was all, “I have!” but I don’t recognize it, and I wish I did. I’m really liking every time the organ and piano come into a song. On the instrument listing on the back cover, it also says that a “Harmonium” is played, but I don’t know if I know what that sounds like. “Dominoes" kind of goes into a jazzy jam session towards the middle and I’m totally feeling it. It’s like The Doors "Riders on the Storm" but more improvised and creative sounding.
I feel like this album has a way of sounding like it’s from the 60’s or 70’s- maybe because of the organs and piano and some of the ways that certain melodies sound, but then it also really sounds like it could be from a brand new band today. Like a band from Brooklyn’s debut album, and I really like that about it! Is that the definition of timeless? I think this feels really timeless, like a Chanel suit.
In the song “Rats,” the vocals start to sound like a chant, and I kind of just zoned out while listening to it, but in the best possible way. The next song, “Maize,” has a blues sound to it, and is so perfect. I was starting to get sick of white dudes in bands trying to imitate black blues singers by covering their songs (like with The Animals and even The Barbarians)- it just never sounded as good to me. But as far as I can tell, this is an original Syd Barrett song, using blues as it’s influence and that’s how you make it work. He doesn’t sound like he’s trying to sound like someone he’s not, the song sounds like it’s taking the influence of a genre and making it it’s own. It really works.
Side two starts with a song called “Gigolo Aunt,” which is awesome. I just said to Alex, “This is called ‘Gigolo Aunt,” and Alex told me that there’s actually a band named after this song. Good job guys, that’s a good band name. What the heck does Gigolo Aunt even mean? I’m looking at the track titles right now though, and I have to say, I think “Wolfpack" would make a better band name. That’s song number 4 on side two. We haven’t heard it yet. "Gigolo Aunt" is also really reminding me of Belle and Sebastian! Belle and Sebastian are a band that I didn’t hear of until my freshman year in college. All of the people I seemed to be making friends with (most of whom were from Framingham, MA btw) loved Belle and Sebastian, and I was all- I don’t get it, it’s so whiny to me. And then I’d put on Dave Matthews Band, and they’d all be like, what the hell Sarah, this sucks. And then one day Belle and Sebastian just clicked SUPER hard for me, and it was almost like in that same moment that I didn’t like Dave Matthews Band anymore. (Okay, it wasn’t exactly like that, but I would need a blog post on it’s own to figure out how I stopped thinking Dave Matthews Band was the best band ever). Anyway, all of that feels significantly connected to the fact that I am digging this album SO HARD right now, and it might be my favorite one that I’ve reviewed!
Ultimately, this album has so many scenarios that you would want to listen to it: you could smoke a joint to this album, you could put it on on a rainy Sunday when you’re just hanging around in your pj’s drinking coffee and reading the paper, you could put it on if you were going to make out with a boy you just started dating, or if your best friend was over to catch up over wine or tea. You could even put this album on if you like falling asleep to music, or reading with music on in the background. Whatever your scenario is, put this album on! And if you are a fan of this album, tell me when you decided to play it too if you want, I’d love to know!