Monday, October 7, 2013
Ancient Times on Soft Power Records
Is there anyone who'll be able to step into the huge shoes that Morrissey's going to leave behind? Jens Lekman is the most likely candidate with his combination of ironic, cutting lyrics over perfectly arranged, simple pop. That tone can be impossibly tricky; you don't want to get too cute to the point no one can take you seriously while still having the technical proficiency and style to reference classic songwriting. Coming up with something classic and contemporary is what Ancient Times has done on a single out today from Soft Power Records I can't help but compare to The Miserablist and get excited about this early period of an artist with this level of talent on their very first single.
On A-Side's "Nightschool" a warbled muddy phaser of jangle riffs leads to shiny production and a decisive thick and layered melody. George Smale's vocal is a dead ringer for early Morrissey. Completely eerie; a lost B-Side from decades ago with a caught in the throat, crooning delivery, hesitant and buried in the mix but with the clarity and conviction of that focused pop. A tiny tight reverb over the vocal and a hint of home made power that's taking chances with the production and pop structure. It's easy to hear how he fell in love with this melody separated out into this bass line. It all comes down to this great vocal that isn't overly trained, I think that's what I always appreciated about Morrissey too, he never sounded like he was overly playing his hand, he was precise but not ornate. I don't think George would appreciate the comparison actually. Who would want to have to live up to that legacy? Instead imagine The Smiths broke up after Strangeways and tadd Ancient Times into your random mix. Ignore that huge statue for just a minute. His instrumentation leaves those intimate moments intact, it doesn't suffer from such over the top perfection that it's off putting. This keeps a human fingerprint on the track, a sincere page in an interesting diary that isn't pretentious in the least.
B-Side's "Hieroglyphic" leads with a solid bass line / snare foundation and George's vocal is even closer with that same slight vibrato of later Morrissey's baritone. This mix compared to the A-Side is a lot bigger and focused on filling the space. George has got that sense of a good narrative, more abstract maybe but keeping this a pop song above all else, not worried about what might or might not make this a hit on any sort of radar - this exists to be the kind of track that's waiting to get to that jangle chorus which will have you forever singing along to this.
Super limited and import only, good luck tracking this down but obviously it's worth the effort. On Soft Power Records. Close you eyes and imagine it's 1984 - in that good way.