This essay recently appeared in The Quietus for Record Store Day.
Skimming through my dad’s record collection one hot, boring summer morning, I came upon The Left Banke. I’d heard of just about everyone else in his collection, so of course I assumed this last, yet-to-be-discovered band was gonna be exquisitely wonderful, was gonna shift my world on its axis. Never mind that it was my DAD’S record collection, never mind that it was pathetic to hope; I was absolutely ready for the excitement that every twelve year old knows is just around the corner.
And yet… all twelve year olds are so deeply steeped in bitter disappointment. “Please be good,” I whispered to these people from another era as I placed the needle on the scratchy vinyl, “please?”
God knows how it happened, but Left Banke came crawling out of the speakers, neat and tidy and messy and throaty and reedy and calm and visceral and…shifted my world on its freakin’ axis. Left Banke heard my prayer: they were good. They were GREAT. With a healthy respect for pop music and an intriguing twist on production (baroque? really??) they shook my ears up sweetly. What a lovely thing to do!
I sat on the floor and listened straight through – I don’t believe I had ever had the patience to engage a side B of one of my father’s records before – while Left Banke turned the wilting eighties sun into happy sixties sunshine. To this day, when I wanna restore my faith in mankind and pop music, I put this record on, my dad having gifted it to me when I left home. It turns wilting into happy, pathetic into enchanted, sun into sunshine.