03 December 2007

The Blow - 'Parentheses'

It's possible, isn't it, that Tomlab has quietly become the best record label around? Think about it. There's that insane, identically packaged alphabet series of 7"s - one for every letter - where the last I'd heard we'd got up to about U and I've ended up buying half of them at least twice because I can never keep track of what I have and what I don't have. Then there's the fact that they're home to the wonderful Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, one of the great underrated acts of this or any other time, and that by itself would be enough. And I've developed a soft spot of late for the looped bedroom strings of Final Fantasy. They seem to be the place where lone oddball types find a comfortable home. We'll overlook for the moment the fact that they gave a leg-up to arch, tiresome Patrick Wolf.

And then there's this tune by The Blow. This has, of course, been out for ages, sealing this site's reputation for being hopelessly behind whatever this week's trend is, having first crossed my path as a 7" earlier this year. I buy too many 7"s - I pile them on the floor and they creep ever forward and claim more carpet week by week (I can't remember what the pattern was now) so sometimes things get lost in the pile. Perhaps I was deterred by the usual swathe of less-good-than-the-original remixes that cluttered the single, when what I really wanted was a classic a side/b side combination. It came to light again for me as the opening song and the one I couldn't ignore on a cheapo sampler to celebrate Tomlab's tenth birthday, Puppy Love.

I'm an incurable softy and so a tune like this is going to get me every time. This is a song about being in love, about completing someone by being with them, and about accepting faults. Eccentrics should stick together, at least to take two people out of the equation for everyone else, or so I keep telling my wife. Ah, and I'm a sucker for a great chorus, and lyrics that assume a life before and don't need to spell everything out, and upbeat, chirruping, vaguely Latin synth tunes, which makes this pretty much the complete package. "Something in the deli aisle makes you cry," indeed - I love inventing the story for that one. There's a whole Raymond Carver tale lurking in that one line. And there's a great lyric too about the wisdom of babies which I won't spoil here, but it was almost enough by itself to make me reverse my personal ban on reproduction.

You could, of course, find somewhere to download this for nothing on the internet, or even pay for it if you're experiencing a dose of scruples - for once, emusic has it, for example, along with the rest of the LP, which of course isn't as good. Or you could take note that the great Norman Records has the physical object with music on it of Puppy Love for £2.99 plus postage, and in doing so support two fine institutions.

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