Lifestyle began with the song “Contempt”, a song of easy beauty from Andy Cohen or, given the lyrics of the track, should that be the easy beauty of Andy/Brigitte Cohen? The opening of the second half of Lifestyle is a mirror of the first in some senses. “That’s Entertainment”, the subject of this week’s blog entry, is another languid classic from Andy. However if “Contempt” was a poignant, smouldering take on a broken relationship, then “That’s Entertainment” is an elegant firestorm. The two tracks are similarly paced but strike wildly different tones.
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This week’s entry marks the halfway point in our series. “Yr Web” is track six on Lifestyle and for those lucky enough to be listening to a vinyl copy of Silkworm’s classic seventh album it is the closing track of side A. While the previous song, the wistful, acoustic, Andy Cohen penned “Roots” eased the album to its quietest point so far, marking a moment of stillness and poignancy, Tim Midyett’s “Yr Web” bounces into our midst like a Labrador pepped up on sherbet and double-glazed doughnuts, ending Lifestyle‘s opening chapter with a brilliant life-affirming ebullience.
We suggested in previous entries that Lifestyle‘s fourth, fifth, and sixth tracks — “Plain”, “Roots”, and “Yr Web” — form a kind of mini-trilogy centring on themes of nostalgia with all three songs looking backwards in one sense or another. “Roots” takes its place in the triptych with lyrics which send glad tidings to an old flame. Although it expresses feelings of regret, the song is not an apology. And it is certainly not any kind of come-on. Rather it’s an open-hearted acknowledgment of past love, the good and the bad, a magnanimous tip of the hat from one human being to another. In other words, it’s very Silkworm.
After the restless escapades of Lifestyle‘s opening trio of songs and their exotic thrills, dank apartments, and Motorhead-related hijinks, with the next track “Plain” we found ourselves back home, Silkworm’s home that is, in Missoula, Montana. The narrator of Tim Midyett’s beautiful love song gazed fondly back to the place and time where he first laid eyes on the object of his affection and his world changed. Uncharacteristically Lifestyle‘s fifth track stays put, and once again the former Hellgate Trading Post, the Garden City, Missoula is our setting, this time for the Andy Cohen penned “Roots”, which is the subject of this week’s blog entry. And whereas in “Plain” Missoula’s role was arguably that of backdrop to the main subject, namely the earliest bloom of love, in “Roots” it takes centre stage as Lifestyle, an album with themes of travel and movement, turns its attention to the problematic notion of home and all that can mean.
As noted in previous entries in this series, the first three tracks of Lifestylei form a breathless triptych. The opening track “Contempt” glides in at mid-pace, the tempo of the track matching its sun-lounger sighs of ennui. The second track “Slave Wages” grabs the baton and sprints away, the quickening of its stride matching its comic-tinged themes of fretfulness and the stress of a hand to mouth existence. Finally, the third track “Treat the New Guy Right” bundles the listener into its back seat and screeches off down the road, its hi-octane revs entirely appropriate to its portrayal of a fiery love affair.
If “Slave Wages” was not an international hit, not number one across the globe, and not the overground smash and instigator of novelty dance crazes it should have been, then “Treat the New Guy Right” was also not the follow-up single that knocked it from the top of the charts and began its own unbroken 20-week run of domination. All of which is not to mourn Lifestyle‘s lack of commercial success, for fretting of that kind frankly is for the birds and bands who make music with cash as their primary motivation, but rather to point up that Lifestyle is perhaps the Silkworm album where that lack of commercial success is so acutely inexplicable, with “Slave Wages” and “Treat the New Guy Right” two of the songs most central to the enigma. The two songs are very different, but one thing they do share is that over-powering ear-burrowing quality which typifies the best pop music. And in that regard, if there is one particular chorus which a first time listener of Lifestyle is likely to find herself singing or rather shouting as the needle hits the run-off groove, it is more than likely to be that of “Treat the New Guy Right”.
// Notes from the Road
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