Wednesday, 11 January 2017

No Apologies For The Infinite Radness 1.2.1 - "Uptight" (Green Day)

A song about holding yourself together as you're charging forward.

There's a tremendous sense of tightness about this song, as the title would suggest. A tension born not from self-restraint, but from imprisonment. Almost every section of the track sees the guitar part oscillating wildly between two positions, like a bullet ricocheting down its own gun barrel. It's not so much that the song can't move - indeed it has a surging momentum to it that fires me up every time. It's that the route it takes as it barrels forward is horribly narrow.  Last week I went on a boat ride into an abandoned lead mine. We coasted down a tunnel maybe five feet across as we passed under a Peak District hill, slamming against rock walls as the boat drifted from side to side and back. That's what this song remind me of; that claustrophobic, echoing trip into darkness, only played back at eight times the speed.

As a result of this closeness, neither song nor listener is given a chance to breathe. The standard verse-chorus-verse structure is replaced with two verses in succession (themselves filled with reversals) which lead into a chorus we never really escape. The only structural change we get after that point - right up until the song collapses in exhaustion and is swept away after just three minutes - is a middle eight in which we'd expect Billie Joe Armstrong to burst into one of his snotty solos. Instead, though, the song snap back into the same riff repeated throughout, just with more muscle. The song coils tighter rather than unwinding, pulsing more fiercely, the way your thumb does when you squeeze it harder. Things don't become faster, the direction doesn't change, but the song gets thicker, somehow. More laden with weight. The bullet gains mass as it rockets from wall to wall.

The end result is a standard Green Day trick - to make bleak cynicism seem buzzing and vital - performed with a level of panache they seldom reach. Sooner or later we all find ourselves in tunnels we can't escape except by running their entire length. This is the best soundtrack possible for working your way deeper into the dark.

B-side: This. Because we always need more cowbell.

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