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May 25, 2010

Tracy Thorn’s new album ‘Love and Its Opposite’ – her third album in over 25 years- is a marvel! Great, witty lyrics and a stripped back, less electronic sound than ‘Out of the Woods’ and her EBTG work. It has interestingly themes too in ‘pop’ music – the trials of late marriage, bringing up teenagers and comparing yourself to them, adultery, singledom, suburban gripes and epiphanies. In fact, it’s probably more like musical theatre in temperament. And not to forget, of course, that voice, which can sound understated and restrained but is full of character (and now) life experience.

In the past there was a tinge of melancholy in her voice – it’s still there but now there is a counterbalancing humour in her lyrics and how she delivers them which I suppose, is a sign of her maturity as a performer. There are good technical singers, but the ones who are really great are those like John Lennon and Kate Bush, who sing with their whole personality and Tracey Thorn sings like that.

Recommended Tracks – ‘Hormones,’ ‘Kentish Town,’ ‘Swimming.’

I am not reading as much as usual lately – I go through phases like that when I can’t find the interest. I’m either off or on – and the most I can manage lately is some poetry here and there. I am working my way rather slowly through Derek Walcott’s ‘White Egrets’. The best moments so far are in the titular fourth sequence. The white egrets shift in meaning from poem to poem – in one they are ‘abrupt angels’ , in another one bird is an ‘egret-emblem,’ in another they are like ‘stalking ewer(s)’, in another their ‘ravenous feeding’ is compared to the work of the poet’s pen both working towards a ‘language beyond speech.’ One line stands out as the keystone that holds the sequence together – ‘The perpetual ideal is astonishment,’ which is a wonderful statement for life, and for poetry.

The ‘Lost’ finale has come and seems to have divided fans. I gave up after the second series, as I felt the writers were chancing their arms – the laws of plot really struggle against huge stories that heap mystery upon mystery especially when the signature of ‘Lost’ was that it would rarely answer any question it raised. There was a lot of crying in the finale and it did feel to me that by the end the show had devolved into a quasi-spiritual/philosphical show with no real ideas, insights or originality.

There are two points here. Firstly, I think it’s a very much an American show – the island is the pioneer again, the plane-wrecked are the colonists, there is a struggle to make sense of their experience via a bizarre array of sci-fi/Cultish religious theories (very much like America’s strange collection of variations of faith from Scientology to Fundamental Christianity) and it reveals America is a very uncomfortable place to be ideologically.

Now, if the programme was a work of satire, parodying the characters’ attempts to make sense of life and death and all the rest, that would be interesting, but I lean towards thinking the programme is just another mawkish symptom of that culture that produced ‘7th Heaven’ and the M. Night Shymalayan films (with a little more pioneer-style brutality thrown in for good measure).

The second point is that this isn’t just me showing an aversion to a genre – I am offended mostly by the slapdash plotting. I wouldn’t have minded how crazy the plot turns had become if care had been taken with details or if the show had remained true to its own mythology, but ultimately ‘Lost’ was bad sci-fi and sentimental to boot. Give me a good plot and you can be as silly as you like. ‘Lost’s’ problem is partially to do with being a popular series – it was over-extended, and stories become diluted and compromised when they are stretched out for too long. After the finale I saw, this show should have been lopped off after the second season.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 1, 2010 12:55 pm

    Re LOST, I concur entirely.

  2. June 2, 2010 12:08 pm

    Thanks Padhraig – I almost thought I’d been too harsh but the finale put a cap on my annoyance with the show!

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