Sunday, February 01, 2004

#85) Everything But The Girl - Walking Wounded (released in 1996, I got it on CD for Christmas that year)

This being the earliest Everything But The Girl album I own, I can’t really tell you how much the influence of drum’n’bass and jungle affected EBTG’s songwriting (which was probably pure supper-club Sade in the ‘80s, judging by the vocals). In fact, I can’t tell you much about those styles in general, since basically I just think it sounds like a drum machine that thinks its Gene Krupa. While I enjoy the solid dance-trance club whatnot that makes up the musical backdrop here, it’s really the lyrics and vocals that make the album such a stand-out for me. Though both sides are represented by the same voice, the credits reveal two similar yet distinct perspectives on a long-term relationship: you can see why they were together, but you can see why their relationship’s falling apart. Singer Tracy Thorn’s lyrics, while confused and wary, reveal the strength of someone willing to make a change. The words written by Ben Watt wear the bitterness of one whose been spurned, though he’s far too intelligent to claim innocence or powerlessness.

Once the personas are distinct, you can see how his resilient “Flipside” is undercut by her caustic “Big Deal," though both songs are effective even without realizing the contrast (it didn't hit me until years after I first heard the album). Thorn sums up the dynamic in the finale as “you play good cop, I play bad cop,” which not only points out their differences but also the fact that they’re both cops: every song represents a search for truth and desire for some semblance of order (there’s also a interrogative streak on this album, almost every lyric is rife with question marks). An impressively developed portrait of maturing romantics, Walking Wounded is one of my favorite “techno” albums in part because it never seems like the point of the album is techno.

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