27
May
08

Tangled in True Love’s Defeat: Andrew Spice’s Pretty Demons

This post is going to take us back a bit in time, considering Andrew Spice’s debut album Pretty Demons released five years ago, but before I go there, I want to go back a bit further than that. To a high school gym in 1999…where I first witnessed Andrew Spice truly perform.
In the midst of a shoddy variety show put on by our Winnipeg high school, wedged between amateur skits and adequate saxophone solos, Andrew sat down at a piano and performed Tori Amos’ version of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. Though I had known Andrew for about five years by that point, I hadn’t known him as a musician – I had known him as the quiet clarinet player beside me in the school band, but hardly as a musician in his own right. I was completely riveted by his haunting voice and passionate piano playing as he lost himself in the music and emotions, capturing the tender torture of the song. At that moment, I knew he didn’t belong with the rest of us – his level of maturity, musical and otherwise, greatly exceeded anything the rest of us adolescents were thinking or doing at the time. While the parents and students assembled there in the audience may very well have preferred the friendlier, amateur fare of other performances, playing out the typical popularity contests of high school, they were hardly the correct, discerning audience to be hearing him.
Thankfully, Canadian singer-songwriter Emm Gryner ended up hearing him, and then producing his album, Pretty Demons, on her Dead Daisys Records label and subsequently playing on Pretty Demons. Manitoba Film and Sound also endorsed the record with a marketing grant to assist in its promotion and distribution. The same year, Pretty Demons was nominated for an OutMusic Award for Best Debut Album. And unfortunately, while all this was going on, I completely missed it. I was hardly as up on my music at that point as I am now, and I was very likely too absorbed in the British music scene (as usual). It took me up until 2006 to notice, but then I couldn’t turn away.
Pretty Demons is indeed pretty in its fractured and bruised self-revelation, managing to avoid standard heartbreak cliches. I have difficulty comparing Andrew with other artists because I still think of his voice as completely his own and I can’t quite objectively step back and hold it up to other artists. The best I can do to describe Andrew’s style is: His voice hovers like mist over cascades of piano, creating rainbows in unexpected places of darkness. His influences listed on his MySpace profile include PJ Harvey, Tori Amos, Nine Inch Nails and Imogen Heap, which I can definitely feel in the atmosphere of his music, but again, Andrew escapes a direct comparison to any of them. On tracks like Unafraid, Beautiful Creatures, and Nice to Know, Andrew peels back the bandages on a broken heart to expose a poignant self-doubt and vulnerability in lyrics like: “how easy this would be/if I wasn’t me/how unafraid/how perfectly made/I wish I was” (Unafraid), “if I were easy and pretty pretty/I’d be remembered” (Beautiful Creatures), and “the poison that I am/must be hard to cure yourself/from everything that’s never quite enough” (Nice to Know). Melodically, Beautiful Creatures is the closest to a radio-friendly hit with its pulsing beat that mimicks a tense heartbeat, and soaring chorus. It is followed by one of my favourite tracks on the album, Silent Rain, which features trembling, breathy vocals, fluid piano, strains of strings, and the incredible lyric of “I’m cold and grey inside this lie/tangled in true love’s defeat.”
Breaking away from the fluidity of Silent Rain, Perfect Day begins with a romping piano line that continues to roll beneath lines like “no it’s not something you said/it’s something that you are/all uncertainty and loveliness/paint me pictures with your eyes/take me in your arms tonight.” The next song titled Christopher reveals the object of betrayal and hurt (and likely the object of the majority of the album’s sentiments), and Christopher then turns up by name in the lyrics of the following track Nice to Know. Pride, like Silent Rain, is a more understated, hushed song, tremulous in its honesty and beauty where vocal and piano move as one. For the track Sometimes Lukewarm, Andrew’s voice dances over the lilting, upbeat melody as the lyrics tell a story of relationship confusion, where feelings about a partner can shift between being suffused with love to overcome with the disappointing reality of his/her flaws. Congratulations takes envy of an ex to new heights as acoustic guitar takes over – “motherfucker” has never been sung so delicately. The album ends with Matthew, a song dedicated to Matthew Shepard, the American student who was fatally attacked in 1998 in a horrific episode of hate crime. It features some of the most heartbreaking lyrics about death I’ve ever heard, creating a personal conversation with Shepard’s spirit and elevating him from beyond a hero to a canonization for those who can see themselves in him. Overall, Pretty Demons is a beautiful document of young heartbreak and loss, and a search for comprehension and healing.
Andrew hasn’t officially released any music since Pretty Demons, but I continue to hope that he will – he’s the classic case of an indie artist that will never get the respect and support he/she deserves from the current music industry. If I’ve convinced you by now (and I hope I have), you can easily purchase Pretty Demons at CD Baby. I’m thankful that I was there back in 1999 to witness the beginning of such musical talent. And here’s to hoping that once again, the right people will be listening.

Andrew Spice’s MySpace: www.myspace.com/andrewspice

Beautiful Creatures – Andrew Spice

Silent Rain – Andrew Spice

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The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave

Photobucket

So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun

Photobucket

Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head

Photobucket

Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away

Photobucket

Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners

Photobucket

Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away

Photobucket

You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender

Photobucket

I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding

Photobucket

You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black

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Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side

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Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb

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Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape

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Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

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And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning

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My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it

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Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love

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We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

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Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south

Empty

Running on

Bravado

As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different

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LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can't...call the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell

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Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are

Photobucket

You must let her go

She's not crying

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Baiting

Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times

Valentines

Hating

Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone

Whipcrack

Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't

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So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need

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The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest

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Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know

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No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more

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All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids

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Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome


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