Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?
The Unicorns are the only men who can reach the freakout beautiful overload, teeth-grind heights of that other most perfect duo, Blechdom from Blectum. Sadness. Such little boy lost vocals that reach yearningly toward falsetto, only to get all ragged and mischievous at the drop of a Jughead crown.
Here are my fourteen favorite (cuz 13 is baaaaad luck) beautiful moments from the Unicorns’ record:
1. The halfway point of “Tuff Ghost,” where the song shifts into the Joy Division grey zone with one of those Peter-Hook-Sword-Of-Damocles basslines and the choirboy vocals of, “I don’t care about anyone.” It only lasts for a few seconds, before the song abruptly switches tempo to some analog crypt weirdness.
2. When, at the end of “Ghost Mountain,” the chimes and keyboards crystallize together around coos of “Sweet nothing,” and as the song fades, someone in the background breaks a glass.
3. The sugary “ba ba ba bas” harmonizing with a single jangling guitar on “Sea Ghost.” Or is it the stomping angular guitar and drums that build up to an explosion that is long past by the point they use “fuck” for the first time? Or is it the immediate aftermath of the f word, as they try to sort out “who was I with?/What time was it?” and “where did you go,” protracting “where” in a way that is guaranteed to break your heart. Yeah.
4. The defeated murmured protestations of “we will survive,” devoid of any fight or spirit (could put Radiohead to shame), buoyed gently along by a funeral processsion of acoustic guitar, elegant synths and hissing drums. Saddest musical moment in months.
5. The frenetic and oh so brief “oooh oooh oooh whooaaahs” accompanied by a buoyant New York New Wave (NYNW?) groove on “The Clap.”
6. The weirdly Aerosmith-esque “Dream On” guitar part that opens “Child Star.” You’ll know it when you hear it.
7. “Child Star” has a trove of ’em, sorry. It could be the woozy distorted keys that meander along and clash with a similarly distorted guitar with no respect for form or structure. Or maybe the mock argument that follows it, where the two ‘Corns argue back and forth, “You liked my latest film/No I didn’t/Yes you did/No I didn’t … I hate you/I hate you too.” Delicious.
8. The plaintive (or mock) desperation of “Let’s Get Known,” in a quavery voice and warm keyboards usually only reserved for love songs: “Look at the ants on the floor/they work real hard lifting three times their mass and sometimes more” — an allegory to stick-to-itiveness in the face of surely deserved fame. Matching outfits are the key, and they say so!
9. “I was born a unicorn/I swore you believed in me/then how come the other unicorns are DEAD?!” — a quiet plea becoming snarling anger, after DEAD, a wave of guitar crashes on the treacherous ark.
10. The desperate bargaining of two unicorns, “I’ll stop believing in you/if you stop believing in me.” Somehow they make it work, over raucous guitar, no fucking less. From “I Was Born (A Unicorn)”
11. “Blow Your Head/On the turn of the fan/Don’t put another down payment on the oil in Iran,” slurred slowly and sweetly over a single glacial bassline, like Codeine covering Rage Against the Machine. Twas “Tuff Luff”
12. When, three minutes into “Inoculate the Innocuous” the song falls away and the sun bursts through the clouds with bright guitar and wondrous flutes and moog, like a joyous picnic on Aquarius Mountain. Awesome.
13. The unaccompanied sigh of, “Is this love of ours a lie?/Is it killing me the lie?” Fittingly, the next time it’s repeated, the lines are nearly swallowed up by speeding drums and an incredibly jagged guitar rave up, where the word “lie” is stretched out to infinity.
14. The triumphant orchestral sweep of “Ready to Die,” culminating in an amazing dark murmur of, “I’ve kissed all the pretty girls/I’ve said my goodbyes (cough)/And now I’m ready to die,” before abruptly cutting to silence almost before the “ie” is out. And that’s, The End.