[Introspective] Twentieth Century and Fundamental
ahweaver at aol.com
ahweaver at aol.com
Sun Mar 23 06:29:38 PDT 2008
I couldn't agree more that Fundamental is PSB's first truly cohesive album. They have many albums that cohere musically but not lyrically, and Bilingual coheres well lyrically but is musically all over the map. Fundamental, however, is nigh perfect not only in its textual and musical cohesion, but also in its track order. The album as a whole, moreover, is far greater than the sum of its parts. It is, I would claim, the Boys' Masterpiece.
I'll admit, however, that at first I didn't like Fundamental. I didn't even go see PSB's last concert in Washington DC because I wasn't crazy about the album. But that's because I didn't take the time to listen to it as a whole. I'd either put it on in the background (and usually not get past "Numb" or "Luna Park"), or I'd put it on in shuffle mode with other albums. That's not at all the way to get to know this album, and I'd pretty much given up on it. Not until I made a road trip this past summer did I decide to give Fundamental another shot, and I was so overwhelmed by the album in its totality that I ended up listening to it on repeat the entire day!
I also want to add my voice to the people defending "Twentieth Century." As far as individual songs on the album go, it's by far one of my favorites. But I think what's even more powerful is that after just one more cautiously optimistic song it's followed by "Integral," a horrifying, dystopian vision of a totalitarian future in which the lessons of the twentieth century haven't been learned but the mistakes are repeated on an even huger scale. The fact that "Integral" is such a frickin' awesome song and so fun to listen to (I tend to blast it at high volume while driving) just adds to the horror. ("Integral" is the best example of my favorite kind of PSB closing track: the high-energy romp that seems like fun but has a darker undertone, "Go West" and "Saturday Night Forever" being two other notable examples.)
A Masterpiece, yes, but man, Fundamental sure is dark, isn't it? By far the darkest, most thoroughly negative album the Boys have made. I remember reading once that with Very (still one of my favorite albums) the Boys weren't trying to make a grand statement but were just trying to create an "up" album after Behaviour. I wonder if they have the same thoughts about their next album, and if so, I have high hopes for the future!
After this great paean to Fundamental, I will say, however, that if I could change one thing it would be "Numb." The song definitely works on the album, both musically and lyrically, but I nevertheless think that it's one of the Boys' most embarrassing mis-steps. Just those double negatives alone make me cringe every time!!
I'm so glad to hear other people defending "Twentieth Century"! It happens
to be one of my favorite PSB tracks of all. It's sweet, and funny, and in
perfect keeping with the theme of Fundamental, the political as personal.
One of my favorte PSB "couplets" too:
Stay with me
And the sound is so electro-groovy!
A little late for me to be making a case for it now, but.
This poll was the most impossible one. I feel Fundamental is PSB's first
truly cohesive album. But to make the effort, I figured we could afford to
set "God willing" aside, and could make room for the grave-haunting
"Resurrectionist". That one resonates nicely with "Psychological", and the
album art outfits, too.
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