Saturday 2 December 2006

Psapp - The Only Thing I Ever Wanted

The past year has not been too exciting musically – and I am referring to the personal level music can have, the "I want to cry and scream and dance at the same time" level CatPower and Scout Niblett definitely have. It was extremely interesting in political terms, which is also the reason why most of my favourite records this year (Kante, Die Sterne, Cursive, The Thermals) feature fine discourse pop, more relevant than touching, although in some cases more disturbing than anything previously heard. Now, you can dig Gore Vidal for his unbelievable ability to put complex political stories into an interesting, fictional narrative, but it's Douglas Coupland who probably touches you more.
When I listened to the FM4 broadcast of this year's Blue Bird-Festival (An annual, Viennese based festival dedicated to Singer/Songwriters), I did not expect to find something new to love, although I was extremely curious whether I would end up liking Sandy Dillon (mixed results, I guess I like Scout Niblett too much to like Sandy Dillon). Much less did I expect to completely and utterly like Psapp, a band I knew before but never expected to consider more important than, say, Zero 7 or Lali Puna. A band which caught my attention for giving one of the most successful current TV show a decent title sequence did not sound like something I could grow personally fond of, although I had listened all the way through "The Only Thing I Ever Wanted".
Now, I do realize that I was completely and utterly happy when I read several articles stating that Beth Ditto of "The Gossip" would become the person of the year musically, and therefore probably finally get all the attention she deserved, but for me, there is somebody coming in second, and close at that. Galia Durant might have the coolest, nicest, sweetest personality ever to stand on a stage, throwing self-made cats into her audience, joking about the toy chicken Brunhilda losing her voice, while her band consisting of five people made weird music on toys. She nearly got me when she made the joke about the place, "Porgy and Bess", the location, having been a porn cinema once - and proposing to fellow band mate Gwen to heat the atmosphere up with some girl-on-girl action.
It is hard to find a picture describing the music of Psapp. The first thing coming to mind is one of these enormous ball pools provided for little kids in shopping malls – it's extremely creative, chaotic, lovely and, above all, funny in a way hardly anything is anymore. Creating a type of humour which is not ironic, self-referential or otherwise pseudo-sophisticated is something music has given up recently. It's Peanuts, all the way from the welcoming "Hi" to "Upstairs".
There is one single lesson learned from this: I have spent my entire adolescence listening to the typical, cliché singer/songwriter music. Like the Blue Bird-Festival itself, I prefer acts which subvert the cliché, are more playful and add variety to their repertoire. Psapp and Scout Niblett fulfil this need perfectly. Thank you.

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