Music

Death By Chocolate: self-titled

Dave Heaton

Death By Chocolate

Death By Chocolate

Label: Jetset
US Release Date: 2001-01-23
Amazon
iTunes

Death By Chocolate's debut, self-titled CD opens with a woman's voice, that of teenage lead singer Angela Faye Tillett, stating a color and then a series of things she associates with it: "Mustard yellow / marinas and Volvos / waistcoats and snug nylon polo necks...deadly gas and the sound of cardboard tearing." Five of these 30-second bits run as a thread through the CD, linking the tracks while furthering the basic theme of the disc: observing and list-making.

The second track has Tillett listing numbers and the objects she associates with them, in a sing-song way, to lightly psychedelic, organ-dominated music (a lowbrow comparison: The music, here and throughout, sounds like the quick segues in the Austin Powers films, the ones where 1960s fashionplates do goofy little dances). It also sounds like the stylistic, pretty pop of the Songs for the Jet Set compilations, the most recent of which Death By Chocolate contributed two songs to.

A later song, "A B & C", has Tillett defining words, one for each letter of the alphabet. In general, Death By Chocolate is all about outlining the world around us, from the silly to the serious. They take fun, fanciful pop music backdrops and put the world on top of it, via glimpses, lists and word associations.

On "The Land of Chocolate", Tillett delivers an all-over-the-place poem about chocolate, with descriptions, recipes and stream-of-consciousness litanies, like this: "Kit Kats, um, crunch / instant satisfaction / familiar and all expectations fulfilled / nostalgia in chocolate." On "The Salvador Dali Murder Mystery", there's two overlapping vocal tracks, with stories and passages waiting to be deciphered. Those two tracks deliver the essence of Death by Chocolate. They project both the aura of a child's innocent view of life and that of a sly, walking mystery enticing you to determine what all of this is about.

Death By Chocolate dive even further into surrealism and pop culture through three fun and unusual covers: Dudley Moore's "The LS Bumble Bee", Sally Field's "Who Needs Wings to Fly?" from The Singing Nun, and one of my all-time-favorite songs, Cat Stevens' "If You Want to Sing Out Sing Out", from Harold and Maude. That last song fits as more than just a pop culture allusion. Harold and Maude brilliantly commented on life, how we look at it and what we do with it, and that song was a perfect encapsulation of the movie's theme. By touching on everything from Pope Gregory I to ice cold lemonade, Death By Chocolate are similarly describing the world around us in a way that highlights its myriad dimensions and the freedom that comes with that fact.

A delightfully silly and cute work of music, Death By Chocolate's CD is simultaneously inspiring and important. It's easy to tell listeners what to think; it's more rewarding when artists show us the world through their eyes. Death By Chocolate has done the latter, and done so in a way that wakes you up, both to the joys of pop music and, as cheesy as it might sound, to the joys of life.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image