an unsolvable puzzle: 'Head Music'

Excerpts from an e-mail discussion about 'Head Music':

"I've given 'Head Music' two re-listens now ... with another pass at the b-sides for good measure. I'm still not entirely sure I get the disappointment - but, of course, I don't have the intense love to be massively let down either. There's plenty to pick on the album for - it's overlong, not sure what it wants to be, paced strangely, the peaks aren't as high and there aren't as many, etc. - but the constant bitching from people about how it's lazy - especially the lyrics - are just annoying. How are the lyrics to "Elephant Man" or the old standby dog to kick while they're down "Savoir Faire" any more banal than "Trash" or "Beautiful Ones", and no one picks on them ... people wanted them to fail so they did."

"The temptation to make it a better album through editing and sequencing - though I'm still convinced they got the first five tracks right if you're assembling a 10-track album out of the material - is still there, but after spending more time with it as a whole era, part of the point is that it is too long for its own good and kind of falls apart at the end. Dare I say it - I feel about it how I perceive others to feel about 'Dog Man Star'. There, I said it. I feel better. Love the flaws...although even I don't think I could bring myself to call it anything close to a "masterpiece" as fans claim about the sophomore album ... Even with re-sequencing and perhaps exchanging some album tracks for b-sides, I don't think they stuck to one style enough to make even a consistently amazing 10-track album that doesn't feel jumbled together. A riddle to be cracked, but like an inept mystery writer - or, perhaps, one too out of his mind on crack to know what's going on - we weren't given all the pieces."

"They got the singles right, I'll give them that. I'm not entirely sure I'd be able to pick a fifth single out of the remainders, though "Savoir Faire" would have been a ballsy - and hilarious - "fuck you", especially at the end of the campaign when everyone was seemingly sick of them ... Actually, I take that back - "Asbestos" would have sounded AMAZING on the radio in the middle of a hot summer as a bit of a counter to what everyone else (including the band at the time with "She's In Fashion") would be releasing at the time. Of course, it would have sunk the album even faster as a second single, but in an alternate universe where that doesn't matter it would have been incredible. "

"The whole era has a certain feel to it that I can't put my finger on, but there's something about each and every song that very clearly and immediately attaches it to the project. I have no idea what it is - or even if it's a good or bad thing - but the album puts me in a completely different head space while it's on ... I suppose it's good since I love it so much, but I have to admit it does make me a bit uncomfortable as well. A good discomfort?"

"I saw the connection between "She" and "Killer" (for the first time) last night. I'm not sure how I missed it, but it made me appreciate the band a bit more, that they had been able to sneak that one past me for so long."

""Crackhead", "Leaving" and "Let Go" are Brett's pick for best b-sides from the era, and "Dolly" and "Painted People" are apparently his examples to explain that the b-sides weren't always all amazing prior to formatting. Good man."

""Electricity" is still fucking. thrilling. and remains my favorite thing they ever did."

A write up as disjointed, confused and unsure of itself as the album itself. Perfect.

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