On Jools Holland’s Hootenanny 2010 they won me over. I’d resisted for God knows what reason, possibly because my friend Jo wouldn’t fucking shut up about them before I had even heard a song. I guess it might also be because at that particular time when all I knew was that one of their lyrics was “who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma” I had just found out (through Morse, natch) what an Oxford comma was, and I quite liked the idea. Who were these unknowns telling me what grammatical fascinations I could and couldn’t have ?
Then “Cousins” was all over xfm, radio one, and 6Music (see what I did ? damn’ straight, that is an Oxford comma right there. BAM !) and I couldn’t get away from it.
THEN I saw them on Jools. So tight, so true to the quality of their studio output, so cool, so audacious. Bastards.
Now they are on the verge of putting out their third album, “Modern Vampires of the City” (released 13 May on XL) and they’ve put out a video for one of the tracks off the record “Ya Hey”. It’s slightly disturbing. It may well say more about me than it does about them, or not, but the video consists mainly of a bunch of extras clad in white sheets spraying champagne and the slowmo pictures, combined with their facial expressions, make it seem like nothing more than some sort of group wank-off. In particular, the lady on the balcony and the Har Mar Superstar-a-like, are clearly sexing those bottles up. There’s even a guy casually one-handing it…
But when you add the song in the video is something of a distraction from the elegiac spirit of “Ya Hey”. “So why love anything ?” asks Ezra Koenig. The lyrics layer lack upon lack, no one is on the side of this song’s target: someone who can’t even face themselves anymore. There’s some beautiful touches – the bass underlying the opening verses is a subtle, bubbling blueness, particularly beneath the tumbling sad beauty of “so I could never love you, in spite of everything”, and it takes the lead as the champagne bottles shatter on the ground, picking out the tune over melancholy, percussion-free sweeps of synthesiser.
The video won me over in the end: as the final handclap abruptly ends a single champagne cork bounces off the edge of the roof, tumbling into the abyss, to land on who knows who or what…
Watch this space for the album.