Thursday, February 4, 2010

Album Review: Smog – Wild Love

This is one of Bill Callahan’s earlier albums. Released in 1995, it’s notable for the fact that cello features in a few of the tracks. The opening track Bathysphere, is a kind of creepy song about how when he was seven he wanted to live at the bottom of the sea, which is real “shut me away from the world” stuff. The title track follows. It’s just over a minute and a half long and it continues the same vein, the only line being ‘wild love, somebody shot down my wild love’, sung with unbearable tension over harrowing cello.

Many of the tracks are under 2 minutes long, though some are little more than dodgy experiments (Sweet Smog Children, The Emperor, The Candle) with strange plinks and plonks, scraped strings. Limited Capacity has a touch of Arab Strap about it, without the vulgar lyrics.

It’s Rough is a slightly more substantial song, albeit based around 2 chords on an electric guitar. Sleepy Joe roughs things up a little with distorted guitar over a piano led song. It’s quite repetitive, like a lot of the songs on this album.

Be Hit is a good little tune, strummed on a barely in tune acoustic guitar, a bit like Beck in his acoustic moments, though the subject matter is disturbing (girls wanting to be hit, and they left him ‘cos I wouldn’t do it’). Prince Alone in the Studio is either very weird, hilarious or a combination of these. It’s probably the most dramatic song here with a descending guitar line and careful pauses for effect after each line, and definitely the longest at seven minutes. He’s helped by backing vocals from Cynthia Dall, and the track even has a false ending! Though it’s definitely not Smog’s greatest collection of songs, there’s a strange ramshackle charm to it.