366 Songs 032: How We Wrote Elastica Man

Continuing the Mark E. Smith-ness from yesterday, “How We Wrote Elastica Man” – from Elastica’s patchy second album, The Menace – is another messy, yet catchy, song that Smith sounds as if he’s wandered into by mistake, mumbling and moaning in the middle of the band chanting down how to spell their name like some kind of bizarro cheerleading squad (I’ve always loved that the chant doesn’t follow the spelling convention you’d expect: “E! The possibilities are…/L!” and so on). But that seems fitting, considering the sound of this song, distorted but recognizably classic in its arrangement (two guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, vocals) and structure. Like so much of Elastica’s output, there’s something knowingly nostalgic and traditional here, performed with a smirk and off-kilter velocity. For all of the MES vocal fuzz, this song could’ve come from any point from the 1960s forward, which may be why Elastica worked so well during their short lived existence: The music appealed to so many people because it could’ve come from each of their own favorite eras.

366 Songs 031: Inch

If ever there was a song that sounded like something created to confirm old people’s preconceptions and prejudices about music created post-Beatles, it’s almost undoubtedly “Inch,” by Inch (with vocals by Mark E. Smith of the Fall). With a brutal, looped at such a point that it sounds too short (and unfinished as a result), riff and sampled drums that are similarly off-kilter and seem to be fighting with everything else in the track, this is a mess way before the theramin (or keyboards that sound theramin-esque? I’m not sure) comes in for full overload. But nonetheless, it’s great, from the hilariously deconstructive opening (which, really, makes Mark E. Smith sound like a crazy old man) to the overkill of the static/feedback at 2:55; there’s something winningly chaotic and scattered and… well, catchy, about this song, to me. Especially when MES ends up doing his weird sing-along thing right at the end.

“Inch,” then: A mess, but the very best kind of mess imaginable.