16
Jan
09

Cocooned in a Soft Solitude: Andrew Keese and The Associates’ Desire

Apparently, Australia isn’t all about Nick Cave, The Go-Betweens and Modular anymore – I was sent a debut album entitled Desire by a band called Andrew Keese and The Associates that caught my attention. This four-piece from Melbourne has blended chamber pop with country/folk and added some thoughtful, often poignant, lyrics to splendid effect. As its apt title suggests, this self-released album is full of unfulfilled yearning, sometimes to the point of regret, and these emotions are brought to the foreground by the Morrisseyesque vocals from frontman Keese. At times, Keese’s vocals shift from warm tones to raspy desperation and they often verge on maudlin grandeur. In turn, the poetic lyrics reflect a position that can be fragile, bitter, resigned and sublimely romantic all at once.

Opening track, Mercy, is a short instrumental featuring only the piano and brave pauses, and it sets up the understated album quite nicely. The album then takes a slightly unexpected turn as Little Possessions fills out the sound with hovering Hammond organ and broad strokes of piano, culminating in a folk-tinged lilt complete with a twangy guitar solo. The next track, Transmission, moves a little differently over a tumbling undercurrent of melodic guitars and bubbling vocals while one of my favourite tracks, Blessed Are the Meek, shelters under an arcadian canopy of violins and features the brilliant line “they think it’s a clarion call, but it’s only semaphore.” The lyrics get even more careworn and wistful with The Shadows, a track that rolls along to driving guitars and Keese’s soaring vocals. Then comes another favourite of mine: The Burden of Proof. This melancholy ballad documents a soul-chafing, lonely night in which the narrator laments “there’s nothing left but the words in my mouth” and expresses regret over a relationship somehow misspent, where proving oneself becomes the biggest burden. This is followed by Ameline, a wry ballad that reminds me a bit of Elvis Costello, and which features another fantastic line in which the narrator compares his ex-lover’s words to both vintage wine and alkaline.

The following two tracks, called Singapore and Sertraline Hydrochloride respectively, work like companion pieces and together clock in at twelve minutes, featuring a languid snare to bind them in romantic misfortune. They both burn as slowly and sorrowfully as the embers of the narrator’s cigarette in the former track, and the latter track, named for an anti-depressant, ends up mimicking an increasingly numb struggle beneath heavy limbs and an even heavier heart. The first real spark of vitriol appears in the snide lyrics and sneery vocals of the track Someday in which the narrator derides an ex-lover and promises a karmic comeuppance; however, even with this vengeful tone, the song manages to remain beautifully self-wounding. The record ends with title track, Desire, which picks the mood and tempo back up again with a jauntiness that belies the realistic, albeit cynical, outlook on the limitations of love affairs. After the song builds and builds against the quivering organ, an ever-mounting whirlwind of emotion, it concludes the album back where it started with a solo piano.

The entire album is available for streaming and free download via the band’s Web site, but it is definitely worth purchasing, especially since it includes four bonus tracks not available on the free version. Andrew Keese and The Associates take the gentle cadences of classical elements and marry them to the mournful essence of country/folk to achieve a record of exquisite longing cocooned in a soft solitude, filtering memory like a twilit blindfold.

Blessed Are the Meek – Andrew Keese and The Associates

The Burden of Proof – Andrew Keese and The Associates

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Make me smell like myself

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To make me smell like someone else

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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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Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

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Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

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Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

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Bloc Party Silent Alarm

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Empty

Running on

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Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

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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

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Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell

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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

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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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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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