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The Real Tuesday Weld

L'Amour et la Morte

(Kindercore; US: 16 Jan 2001)

The Real Tuesday Weld, a.k.a. Stephen Coates, is a stylish man. Or at least he sounds that way on his 15-minute L’Amour et la Morte EP. All five songs have that sort of aloof, “look at me, I’m beautiful” feel to them. It’s the sort of release where first impressions prove wrong. At first, this sounds like a narcissistic exercise in showiness, all style and no substance. But then you notice the inventive, continually intriguing music, and the day has been saved. The Real Tuesday World is a creative musical tinkerer disguising himself as a fashionplate.

The first track, the title track, recasts cynic-romantic Lloyd Cole (himself quite a stylish man) as an over-the-top pop crooner, over a beautifully scattered mix of music. There’s skittery beats, organ, vocal samples, strings and probably much, much more. Coates has an open attitude toward instrumentation; it sounds like he’ll take anything and make it work, and that’s what he does throughout the EP’s five tracks. Some are nearly dance tracks, some are smooth ballads, and all are completely stunning, as far as the music goes. “Epitaph For a Dead Uncle” takes a light swing tune and matches it with unique vocal techniques, both natural (falsetto) and manipulated (echo). “The Real Tuesday Weld (Weld Mix)” at first seems like the least interesting track, a dance-pop track with almost inane lyrics about the singer’s real identity…that is, until you notice the buzzing (of a welder’s tools?) thrown into the mix every 30 seconds or so.

It’s hard to tell how far The Real Tuesday Weld can take his glamorous torch singer shtick. Plain and simple, the lyrics here don’t excite me. It’s hard to tell if really is that full of himself, or if it’s just a joke. Even a lost-love ballad like “The Days of You and Me” manages to be about how fabulous the Real Tuesday Weld looks and is. Still, Stephen Coates seems to have bountiful talent in the areas of composing music that’s filled with surprise and variety. Every track on the EP serves as an example. “The Days of You and Me” might not be the high point lyrically, but composition-wise it is. It mixes mellow pop, a whispery voice and the sound of a bossa-nova trio with people talking about love and a lonely trumpet off in the distance.

I don’t know much about Stephen Coates. It’s obvious from his songs that he doesn’t want you to, he’s comfortable wearing his persona like the latest fashion. What I do know is he’s on top of things musically, and L’Amour et la Morte is a joy in that regard.

Dave Heaton has been writing about music on a regular basis since 1993, first for unofficial college-town newspapers and DIY fanzines and now mostly on the Internet. In 2000, the same year he started writing for PopMatters, he founded the online arts magazine, still around but often in flux. He writes music reviews for the print magazine The Big Takeover. He is a music obsessive through and through. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Modesty is a virtue, but a surfeit of modesty can grate. Listening to this album sometimes seems an impossibly precious pastime, like Belle & Sebastian with samplers.
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