A little over two years ago I was asked, as part of an interview about my music-related activities, what were my Top Five albums*? Even though I'd read High Fidelity more than a few times (and at the time I'd just seen the movie), I'd never actually been prompted to compile my own list of that sort. Too difficult!, I'd mentally protest.
After spending far too much time writing, erasing and re-erasing my list, I did eventually come up with five albums, number two of which was Submarine Bells by the Chills. Deciding to include the Chills was easy; picking that particular album was hard, as I think all three Chills albums are on the same level of excellence -- yes, even Soft Bomb, which no one else seems to like much. (Yes, Martin is clearly throwing a Pity Party In His Heart on "Song For Randy Newman, Etc.", but it's affecting nonetheless.)
But now I'm reconsidering my pick based on a wonderful article I recently happened across, a love note to "forgotten classic" Brave Words penned by music journalist Tony Fletcher on his iJamming! site. He certainly captures the best qualities of the Chills' music, as he writes, a depth of lyrical content, a love of twisted melodies, and a desperate yearning at the heart of each song.
And his personal recollection of how this album hit him really made me remember how it hit me, how I also had "Wet Blanket" on constant repeat (on the stereo and in my head), also thrilled to the stop-start ride of "Rain." Impossibly wordy, melodically rambling, emotionally raw... "Rain" is my personal album highlight, and probably my favorite song, period.
Trying to compare the brilliance of the three or four mind-bendingly great songs on Brave Words to the more fully-realized album that is Submarine Bells is just too damn hard. Pass!
Posted by nstop at November 24, 2002 12:00 AM
* The others would be: 1. The Go-Betweens - Before Hollywood, 3. Wire - 154, 4. Orange Juice - Ostrich Churchyard, 5. The Fall - The Wonderful and Frightening World of The Fall.