Sunday, February 15, 2009

Discourse 2000 #3

NOMINATED BY: Tom Perry of Tracks From The Stack

(Signed, you may note)

Time is a harsh mistress. People have short memories. Time and tide wait for no man. Three sayings which apply well to this forgotten masterwork from March 2000. In theory, Six by Seven had everything going for them when The Closer You Get was released. One very good debut in the bag, a band that seemed to be telepathically tight, new songs and ideas, and the backing of the music press. What stopped them from being as big as former touring partners and friends Placebo? Was it their casual contempt for those who interviewed them, and overall media shy ways? They certainly weren't the touchy-feely-please-hug-me Coldplay, and their firebrand indie rock style was buried on the airwaves from the get go. Spot plays and x-list all the way from Radio One and Xfm. Blink, and you'd miss them in the flurry of Nu-Metal, bad Oasis singles and Travis. Terribly bad timing, and awfully bad luck.

Whatever it was that derailed their career, it wasn't this album. Opening with the vicious anti-consumerism invective of Eat Junk Become Junk and jumping straight into the punky teenage paean of Sawn Off Metallica T-Shirt, Six by Seven delivered one of the greatest one-two combos ever to open a British alternative album. Their live ferocity, which had been found lacking on their debut was delivered in spades here, misanthropic venom dripping from the pen. That wasn't to say that they were done with slowly building soundscapes. The single, Ten Places To Die, and album centrepiece My Life Is an Accident married Chris Olley's deadly dry vocal style and intense, wailing walls of twin guitar noise. Every instrument was finely balanced within the superb Ric Peet/John Leckie production, all of the songs were excellent, and their sound was genuinely unique. On top of this, the band were peaking in creativity and in their on stage performances.

Part of me thinks they took their eye off the ball when TCYG was released, thinking that the quality would sell itself. In one telling Rock Sound interview Olley mentioned that they thought the next album would bring the breakthrough. At the time it struck me as an odd thing to say when about to tour a brand new album, as if he was managing expectation within the group. The next album came out, and it was good, but not quite as good, and from there on out it was diminishing returns all round. Despite all of that, there is no getting around the fact that they made a near-perfect rock album that has stood the nine years since it was released magnificently. After a full nine years of albums, almost a decade of direct competition from other bands, this still places in my five best albums of the 00's list. It's just a real shame that so few people have heard it.

Eat Junk Become Junk (live at Benicassim)

Ten Places To Die (ditto)


Matt said...

Excellent. I was listening to this the other week, the day of the heavy snowfall. I suppose pretty much anything sounds good when you're on a train passing through an unusually snowy landscape but this did fit the day particularly well.

They were extraordinarily good live at this time as well. I seem to recall a certain amount of chopping and changing of members after this album and things never quite being the same after that. I think I listened to the next album about twice before stuffing it in a dusty corner, never to be returned to.

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