Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Here are their love letters to records that forever changed their lives.
Ed Quinn, Slum Sociable: MGMT — ‘Oracular Spectacular’
The moment I heard your outro in ‘Of Moons, Birds, and Monsters’, I knew we were meant to be together.
You were omnipresent; I’d hear you in a clothing store, or a café, a party, or an advert of television. There was no escaping you in 2008, but that was perfect. I was confused and naïve; at 17 I prided myself on being into bands like The Mars Volta and Mahavishnu Orchestra, certainly not ‘pop’ music. Yet my favourite songs in years were being blasted all over commercial radio. What was this fresh, delicious madness?
Your three biggest singles were, of course, intoxicating. I’d defy anyone to put any of ‘Time To Pretend’, ‘Electric Feel’, or ‘Kids’ on at a party today, (10 years after your release) and not be certain of that dancefloor clearing.
But that wasn’t why I loved you. I was enveloped in the beauty of your ‘album tracks’ (although let’s be honest, they would be considered bonafide singles on nearly any other record from the last decade); the strained perfection of the vocal delivery in ‘Weekend Wars’, the hyper-melodic bass-line in ‘Pieces of What’, the bizarre arrangement of ‘The Handshake’, the key change in ‘The Youth’. How was all of this happening? What did it all mean?
Your lyrics sat so perfectly with the kaleidoscope of colours your instrumentation created. I didn’t understand all of them, but they all made sense. Shooting heroin in Paris? Evil SIS? A handshake under our tongue? A family of trees wanting to be haunted?
I could introduce you to any of my friends or family, and within one listen they too would be hooked. What was this allure that you possessed? How could so many great songs be on one album?
I wonder what the circumstances were like when you were conceived; were there Major Label pressures placed on you? Or were your creators allowed to follow their instincts? Because, let’s be honest, nothing has come close to you since. What was the atmosphere like when you were concocted? I feel like you were too intelligent to be the byproduct of drug-fuelled studio sessions that ‘experimental’ music often gets lumped in with, but that’s kind of how you were marketed.
To this day, I catch myself subconsciously trying to emulate you; the crunchiness of your drum sound (shouts out to Dave Friendman), your flawless use of the Roland RE-201 Space Echo, your knack for effortlessly restarting a track halfway through itself. But there’s no use. Nothing will ever compare.
You appeared during a time when social media didn’t occupy nearly as prevalent a position as it does now, so I was afforded countless listens before I even knew anything about your creators. It was perfect.
And now, if I’m struggling for inspiration, I’ll always go back to track eight, wait for 2:26 to kick in, hear the perfectly delayed guitar line, and remember why I started making music in the first place.
I love you Oracular Spectacular.
Slum Sociable’s self-titled debut album is out now. Check it out via the band’s official website right here.