PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Teddy Thompson Sings About Love on 'Heartbreaker Please'

Photo: Gary Waldman / Courtesy of Hearth PR

Teddy Thompson's Heartbreaker Please raises one's spirits by accepting the end as a new beginning. He's re-joining the world and out looking for love.

Heartbreaker Please
Teddy Thompson

Thirty Tigers

29 May 2020

Most of us have been there. The relationship that once promised to be 'the one' is over. It's sad, but we knew for a while that the affair was coming to an end. It's too early to find someone else. We just need to chill, look back, and look ahead while existing in the in-between. That's where Teddy Thompson lives on his latest release, Heartbreaker Please. The ten songs on the album share this melancholy vibe. They are more resigned than sad. They share an upbeat sensibility because there's an acknowledgment that the worst is over. There's something bittersweetly charming about the whole situation.

The album begins with a fanfare of horns as Thompson asks, "Why Wait", as in "Why wait for you to break my heart?" He initiates the breakup he sees as inevitable even as he pleads for his lover to stay. This mix of feelings reveals the narrator's confusion. Thompson's facility at expressing more than one emotive state at a time demonstrates his lyrical talents. He uses simple language to communicate complex thoughts and feelings through wordplay and intonations.

Consider the opening couplet of the title track: "Here's the piece of my heart / That you left at the part / Only bit that remains / You can break it again." Thompson starts to sing in a quiet voice over a simple beat. The first line's meaning is unclear; is he offering love—a piece of his heart? The other meaning of the homonym "piece" with "peace" suggests Thompson seeks comfort. He pauses before continuing, stringing out the reference (i.e., meaning when they separated and suggestively asking "part" of what). He then reaches back and explains that a "piece" is all he has; (re: the "only bit", whose vampirish connotation seems intentional) of the love he once felt. The music begins to swell as he painfully conveys his bitterness and then stoically continues that he's willing to suffer more; hence, "again". Thompson paints the scenario in a mere 21 words. The rest of the song "Heartbreaker Please" extracts the push/pull of feelings its ambiguous moniker suggests (he wants the affair to end, he wants the relationship to continue, he doesn't know what he wants).

Thompson openly admits his debt to 1950s rock and roll acts such as the Everly Brothers on his sound, and songs such as "It's Not Easy" and "At a Light" would fit right in on a playlist with tracks like "Bye Bye Love" and "Kathy's Clown". They share a thematic similarity: the narrator bemoans the ending of a romantic liaison but knows it's not the end of the world. There is a distinct musical resemblance to the oldies as well. That is true of the album as a whole whose title evokes such songs as "Heartbreaker", "Lover Please", and others. Thompson addresses the fact that he prefers old radio hits to new ones on "Record Player" and this is exemplified by the music here.

Thompson produced the record, as well as singing and playing lead guitar and writing all the songs. He worked with a small combo of people, mostly Jeff Hill on bass, Zach Jones on percussion, Al Street on electric guitar, and Eric Finland on keyboards. Thompson's father Richard contributed to the mix with electric guitar on the title song. Like much of Richard's work, the son's compositions frequently have a jaunty ambiance. That is probably not a hereditary trait as much as part of the human condition these days: smiling through the apocalypses (both personal and collective ones).

Heartbreaker Please raises one's spirits by accepting the end as a new beginning. He sings about feeling "Brand New", and while his enthusiasm is suspect, there is a sense of relief present. Thompson's not wallowing; he's re-joining the world and out looking for love.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Jefferson Starship Soar Again with 'Mother of the Sun'

Rock goddess Cathy Richardson speaks out about honoring the legacy of Paul Kantner, songwriting with Grace Slick for the Jefferson Starship's new album, and rocking the vote to dump Trump.

Books

Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll (excerpt)

Ikette Claudia Lennear, rumored to be the inspiration for Mick Jagger's "Brown Sugar", often felt disconnect between her identity as an African American woman and her engagement with rock. Enjoy this excerpt of cultural anthropologist Maureen Mahon's Black Diamond Queens, courtesy of Duke University Press.

Maureen Mahon
Music

Ane Brun's 'After the Great Storm' Features Some of Her Best Songs

The irresolution and unease that pervade Ane Brun's After the Great Storm perfectly mirror the anxiety and social isolation that have engulfed this post-pandemic era.

Music

'Long Hot Summers' Is a Lavish, Long-Overdue Boxed Set from the Style Council

Paul Weller's misunderstood, underappreciated '80s soul-pop outfit the Style Council are the subject of a multi-disc collection that's perfect for the uninitiated and a great nostalgia trip for those who heard it all the first time.

Music

ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.

Music

The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.

Books

Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.

Film

Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.

Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.