The past decade has seen the music industry change beyond recognition. From Napster to Itunes - the means for people to get their ears on new music has altered immeasurably. And just as the method of consumption has been tilted on its head, so have the traditional methods for measuring a band's success. Chart positions? NME covers? They all seem terribly archaic notions and somewhat irrelevant in 2009. The advent of blogs, My Space and Spotify has meant you can take your musical pleasure instantly. This opening up of the music business to bands that are internet-savvy means a fair few can actually slip under the traditional radar. Which brings me to the band in question here. The Manhattan Love Suicides. A few articles on Pitchfork and Plan B magazine is not much return for one of the best bands of the past 10 years, is it?
The Manhattan Love Suicides. Go on say it out loud. As band names go it resonates. The band would have to be something special to match the name. And they were - first bursting into our world in late 2006, live they were a squall of feedback, attitude and defiance. In defiance of what? I'm not sure I ever fully worked that out. But their 20 minute sets still felt like a statement. Even if it was over 20 years since The Jesus and Mary Chain had first tried this nifty trick, there was still something powerful going on in giving an audience a brief teaser before pulling the plug and walking off stage in a maelstrom of guitar feedback.
In their three and half years together the band blasted through over 50 songs which is impressive a feat on it's own. It becomes even more so when you listen back to all 50 odd songs and find it's 99% killer and very little filler. For me they burnt no brighter than on their Clusterfuck EP. And it is the title song of that EP that I hold as my favourite tune of the past ten years. As a song it encapsulates everything I love about music - pop hooks and buzzsaw guitars. The Manhattan Love Suicides knew how to deliver a fuzzy adrenalin rush in 3 minutes and from the off this song is built around one of those irresistible pop hooks, you know, the kind that you are humming for days after hearing the song for the first time. Adding a wall of sound production to this pop song serves to intensify the rush of excitement as the song hurtles towards its destructive outcome. The guitars are delivered with barbed wire fuzz and the drums crash like the staccato of rapid machine gun fire - amidst the noise we have the ice cool vocals of Caroline McChrystal that somehow shimmer like a beacon of calm.
As the business side of making music lurches blindly towards its extinction, bands like The Manhattan Love Suicides might come and go and not prick public consciousness but for those that took the time to dig beneath the surface of pop culuture, it's these bands that we will remember the noughties for.
[Album: Burnt Out Landscapes]