Ben Green

Keep On Dancin’s – The End Of Everything (merenoise)

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by Ben Green

It’s jacket weather.

The other day I got an email from my friend S, who lives at high altitude in Mexico and had watched a film called Upside Down:

“The part where they first introduce the Mary Chain is perhaps my favourite. It’s got a little section on East Kilbride being a newtown which then cuts to one of their songs (maybe the start of ‘Some Candy Talking’) and then to black and white shots of them super-young walking around in sunglasses, leather jackers and their hair, some of them outdoors with that almost Belle And Sebastian Glasgow pastoral feel. It’s amazing. The second time I watched it I stopped the video, went searching for a black T-shirt (it was in the wash), my leather jacket and resolved to buy new black sunglasses. They had the defiance and righteousness and beauty.”

About five years ago I saw two young women, one with white hair and one with black, board a bus wearing massive op shop fur coats, high contrast makeup, and perfume that reached the back seat. In the context of the 199 on a Wednesday night they emanated romance and glamour – you wanted to know where they were going – and aroused fond memories of old friends. I recognised them as half of The Butcher Birds, who, it seems weird to recall now, stood out just as much musically with their red lipstick streak of grunge volume and melody against a pale background of whatever else was happening at the time.

The Keep On Dancin’s are one of the fur coats getting together with one of the leather jackers, Lee Hazlewood’s tassled, brown suede number and a salt-encrusted, wool-lined moleskin coat. Moleskin stares into the sunset and dials the reverb to ‘swoon’; Leather brings his distortion pedal and his tambourine and pushes the reverb to ‘sneer’; Hazlewood twangs and drawls sad dreams; Fur Coat clasps the microphone and croons, alternately breathy and keening. One eye on Leather, she says: “Your danger is what I want”. Moleskin duets with Lee in her boots. Everyone gets along swimmingly,

The KoD’s get called ‘surf’, but for the most part this ain’t beach party music. They’ve got Bombora-toms and Apache guitars, but the only ocean here is one of regret, and longing; the one that separates the lovers in the climactic centrepiece ‘Houston’ – and an ocean of reverb. Intense reverb, the reverb of wallowing in your echoing thoughts and loving it, wrapping it around you like an old coat with a familiar smell, loving the flashes of pain like needling guitars and percussion by a chain-slapping wet tarmac. Real masochistic shit. As in, the happiest song is called ‘There Goes Your Guy’ (“You’re gonna lose him”: handclaps and tambourine everyone!) and the saddest song is called ‘Keep On Dancin’ (“I see you in the hall/you won’t return my calls”). Sick fucks. The album’s called The End Of Everything, for God’s sake. It’s great. Put it on to keep you warm.

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