A positive reaction to music comes as a spur in the moment, a big flurrying stream of some kind of inspiration for appreciation. I hope this post reflects how the band Radiator Hospital gave me many of these moments over the last half a year. I’ve been falling in unstoppable love with a band, a band who just play guitars really good and drums really good and sing lyrics really good about feelings and emotions and problems and things like that, particularly with regard to people loving people who aren’t very good at loving people back. They do all this stuff a lot on this new album ‘Something Wild‘. I started writing this post earlier this year soon after I wrote my first post on them and have been filling in little gaps every so often ever since; an accumulation of many moments of over-excitement and emotion in different places at different times of the day where I just needed to write a sentence of something about it all… Almost like a collection of mini fan-mails I’m too self-conscious to send to the singer and his band every time I really get into their songs and I can’t help myself but want to tell them why.
Part 1: oh my god the lyrics
Basically, what I’m trying to say and what I’m about to say is ‘oh my god the lyrics, the music, this band are so good’. He just says everything so honest, so real. Every frustration, every underlying discomfort is an object to some of the best-sounding and most satisfying dissection courtesy of Radiator Hospital. Every teenage relationship angst unplugged into beautiful adults dancing sounding strumming drumming away so much sweat welled up during all those nights spent taking life too seriously. What a shit thing to say that was; life’s serious! But its thoughtless excitement, life’s ecstasy, life’s perks, utterly unserious yet seriously-taken perks; that’s how this music makes me feel, the voice and guitar and drums is like a plastic bottle of gin handed shakingly to a nervous 13 year old who quite fancies a girl or a boy and thinks the thing will make the “lovesickness” go away, lovesickness, something he heard his friend call it at some overexcited sleepover conversation, sleeping bags, a badly-rolled cigarette in the park to a 16 year old who quite fancies a girl or a boy, smoking an over-excited distraction, an aching ‘awesome’ relief for that old friend called love-sickness. Drags the thing and thinks he loves her so much that he’s smoking, the nonsensical emo in all of us exposed.
Turns on, moves on. To her twenties, his twenties, and still fighting off the loveseriousness with teenaged weapons of exaggerated misery and exaggerated anger, this kind of cartoon love-story world where each “you” or “your” sung courtesy of Radiator Hospital (173 times over the album) is some huge cartoon sound effect, sound impact between a sprinting dog looking the other way wide-eyed while he runs snout-first into a wall, smash! You! Why don’t you love me?! Your face! Your room! Say how you feel! Radiator Hospital are the circling crown of cartoon stars above the dogs head, spinning in circles frantically, or maybe therapeutically, there’s two ways of looking at it, not mutually exclusive.
At the end of the day, Radiator Hospital are likeable to pop rock stars of enchantment, idols of emotion, not for all this stuff it makes me think about everything but because it feels like they’re just playing everything honestly, singing everything honestly, saying it how it is, no inhibitions about how it sounds but only excitement to play it together, the lyrics, metaphors for the music, don’t sound as if they took second thoughts, they look scrawled hurriedly, concisely extracted from some stream of thought and memory unbarricaded of pretensions, but pressured out by some overwhelming sense of discontent contracted whilst doing something random like watching cinema or eating fast food or driving a car; some ningling reoccurrence of lovesickness hanging on the brain, catching, in your head… this music has lined my subconscious with warm stuff.
Part 2: the album… and ‘oh my god the music’ again (written in July)
Basically they released an album a few days ago and it’s really good. The album’s called Something Wild. The male voice is pitched high and strained, the guitars are grabbed hastily, strummed tirelessly, the drums catch up, speed ahead, catch breath, continuously trying so fucking hard to get everything together, and they do. They pound out so hard, this guy’s heart is racing, he’s remembering and imagining faces and places and things and they’re racing around his head like birds flapping wings in cages. Sounds like he’s in loads of underlying pain and the stuff he says reflect that, I Love You Sometimes I Cry When You Looked Into My Eyes Stuck In Your Head (that’s a collage of random lyrics I arranged together). A more than a few times there’s stuff about the girl not saying ‘I love you’ back, other few times there’s stuff of realising you love the person, who has a boyfriend, not wanting to hear if she loves him back, he knows she doesn’t probably.
Messy contradictions of lyrics’ meanings like this builds an album like a playroom and Love like this big toy, Sam toys all over it with heartfeltness and sincerity and sadness and passion, forlorn anger, excitement, it’s like there’s this realisation over the album that love is a stupid toy but that it hurts so fucking hard anyway and you can’t stop playing with it however hard you want to throw it away or indeed just hold it, treasure it without having to play with it constantly. But the playing is constant, keepsplaying so frantic, so steady sometimes; the album is this journey where there is frantic playing, sometimes breakneck speed and loud full drums, sometimes out to just an acoustic and voice, sometimes beautiful shiny recordings, sometimes messy hissy tape sounding capture.
Maybe anyway, whatever it is that is Radiator Hospital’s version of love, it’s completely stimulating like memories and nostalgia and teenage romance and adult romance and home and crying and kissing all united as one beautiful ridiculously addictive angst cocktail of everything said out loud in a strained voice with guitar strumming in bug flurry of breathless music.
Basically all that I here-mentioned referenced all songs on the album by and large, and indeed themes that seem to cover a majority of their discog, in my mind RH is special for releasing EPs for EPs and albums for albums instead of for apparently marketable or disproportionately appealing singles; partly because all the songs are so short, that’s perfect.
Basically, this band are good. Would recommend their other EPs that are available on their Bandcamp at name your price; here’s a few songs from those to invite you:
The last EP mentioned, Nothin’ In My Eyes is what I first listened to and is mostly without drums.