Yesterday, I spent an hour going through the entire Underworld catalog trying to find other songs as good as the two below.
These two are the major standouts. Now, there were a couple others that I like (one called “Dark Train” and another with “curry” in the title), but Amazon did that thing on both where you have to buy the full album to get the track, usually a very long track. Silly bullshit. I would rather pay more for a long track then be forced to buy whole albums of songs I don’t want.
The thing is, because I dislike the harsh sound of many other Underworld songs (the beats in many are abrasive where the two below are gentle), I will admit I was not giving most of these albums a proper chance. We all know that some tracks must be listened to a few times to properly “get it”.
On the other hand, I once owned “Oblivion with Bells” and I only liked two songs on it, once of which is below. So, maybe my initial impression of “wow most of these songs suck” based on snippets and fast forwarding was correct.
this is largely a matter of economy. If I found this collection in CD format at a garage sale for $5 or $10 to get all the albums, I would happily grab them up and give the albums a proper listen over time.
well, I am not going to sit around streaming music that I don’t own, tolerating ads, skipping over ads, whatever. Nope.
Are there people content to stream all the time without owning? Not me. When I hit up Pandora, I am actively looking for new music to buy. I don’t do this often because I am so picky. Anyway. My next mission is to go to pandora, look at all those 200+ songs I have given a “thumbs up” over the last several year, preview them on YouTube (the one venue where you can listen to anything on demand for free) and then decide which ones are worth owning. And then buy them.
Last night I bought “Dirty Epic” and “8Ball” by Underworld. That was it. Nothing more from all this exploration.
“Dirty Epic” is also a good song. This guy is a good lyricist. I read a bunch of lyrics from songs I don’t like the sound of. He’s almost a poet. “Dirty Epic” has both good lyrics and an enjoyable, soft-beat sound. LOVE their soft beats.
But let’s talk about the two masterpieces.
“Beautiful Burnout” is brilliant, because (like all good songs that I love), the imagery and potency of the moment is strong here.
It’s about riding a city train while the sun sets. When I say “imagery and potency” I mean that you can see the cold winter sun setting in the glass windows of the skyscrapers. You can feel the train turning. There are even beats here that emulate going over bumps, or perhaps the rattling of the cab as it speeds up and slows down to stop. Powerful stuff.
The lyrics support the music so well. “Sun goes down. Temperature drops”. This is as potent as any song by The Smashing Pumpkins that I love. And for the same reasons. Underworld are electronica, but unlike a lot of boring electronic fare, when they are at their best they tell a story and absolutely put you there just as well as any good classic rock band.
There are sound elements here supporting the imagery that I can feel but can’t explain. I like that. For me art is only potent when something inside of it is slightly unreachable. When it can’t be fully described, even as some writers and journalists may get close. That’s the key. I’m certain that every sound crafted here supports the train imagery in every way, but I can’t explain why.
I already talked about 8Ball a couple weeks ago. I thought it was called “8Ball on the Beach” for some reason. It might as well be called that!
I was in a deep depression, due to feeling trapped and the unending summer heatwaves of August. The point where I began to get some relief was when I remembered this song and started vaporizing weed during the day while listening to this. I would listen to it like 3 times in a row.
That magical guitar beginning at the 4:40(ish) timestamp does something for me. The frequency is one of hope. As much as I love the beach on a warm day, I actually like this song more somehow. Probably because it’s the sound of human emotion reacting to the beach.
There are some darker and playful elements. The sound is one thing, but listen to the lyrics. This song is about doing cocaine on the beach. Three druggies are hanging out. One is our coked up protaganist, absolutely having the time of his life. The second is some guy on who knows what “using an empty whisky flask as a walkie-talkie”, then a third character on some type of drug (I would like to think psychedelic) who runs up to the protagonist and throws his arms around him in a warm embrace.
These people might be fucked up, but it’s absolutely heartwarming. Seriously. I love this song so much.
I talked before about the guy in the comments who obviously knows nothing about drug slang. He is like “this is about buddism, yay!”. I guess at the end when he says “that white stuff makes me feel happy” this guy thinks he’s talking about beach sand.
The guitar recalls Smashing Pumpkins Gish-era guitar. Chiming, sunny, happy. It’s a frequency that does something spiritual for me. Which is probably why it began to pull me out of that very bad place such that I could function enough to actually go to the beach with B. Where I had a good time until I decided to get stupid toward the end.
Anyway. I really wish they had more songs this good. “Dark and Long/Dark Train” is also very good. Although very different from 8Ball. But I’m not linking it over because linking over YouTube is a pain in the ass. Two is enough.