I’ve been annoying the rest of the office by listening to Mogwai samples on a loop from Amazon, to decide whether I really, really want to buy the soundtrack of The Returned, or whether having the undead spill over into my non-Sunday night life, is a really bad idea. The jury is still out. However in the process, the sound of Mogwai awakened an urge in me to get out my extremely old Massive Attack album Mezzanine and load it into iTunes.
In 1998, I’d just graduated, moved to the countryside and had a baby in the space of three months. My listening of choice was Tori Amos; The Sound of McAlmont and Butler; This Fire by Paula Cole. The Divine Comedy. Blur. Clever, deserving stuff, either earnest or ironic, with lyrics you could listen to and that would bear thinking about, and tunes that soared and danced and made you feel the same.
I only bought Mezzanine for the Teardrop track. The difference of the rest of the album perplexed and disappointed me. I listened to it a couple of times, but couldn’t get into it. Although I did hang onto it, unable to get rid of it, as I knew that the album represented a coolness that would be forever unattainable to me.
Over the years, all my other student CDs went by the by. But for some reason, I never ended up throwing this one out, and even had further attempts at playing it, even though it did annoy boyfriends. (It’s a somewhat insistent, some would say abrasive even, presence in the background.)
So now I have gone back to it again for the first time in years, and I realise that part of its longevity is that it never felt that it was too much of its time. But more to do with me; I didn’t want to give up on it, I knew there was something there that I just couldn’t grasp at the time.
So now I’m older, and I like the variety of it, the contrast between the resonance of Teardrop; against the laid back Exchange; against the gentle beat of Mezzanine.; the escapism of Group Four. Admittedly a couple of the tracks, such as Inertia Creeps, are still too insistent and unnerving for me. But I like that too; it’s an album that is more than I can understand, more than I can manage. Which is OK. The world is no longer there to be changed; this music just is, and I just am. And thank goodness it has finally pushed Hungry Face out of the repeat loop that has been playing over and over in my head since Sunday night.