It was whilst driving to IKEA last Sunday in the obligatory Volvo estate that I stumbled upon a truism regarding the debut album by go-go goths Cat’s Eyes. Side 1, track 4, “Face In The Crowd” is quite possibly the snottiest song in rock’n’roll history.
Snot is to rock’n’roll as corruption is to American presidential elections and mediocrity is to all but one memorable season at Leicester City. The intrinsically distasteful element by which we define our experience. From the moment that Bo Diddley (yes, it’s always Bo Diddley) spat “you’re that thing I throw peanuts at” in “Say Man”, rock’s landscape has been littered with hormonal outpourings of resentment, disaffection and bile.
Iconoclasts within music are often credited with breaking away from pop’s moon-in-June norm; yes Zimmerman, I’m talking to you. But it is the level of sarcasm that Bob himself achieved in “It Ain’t Me Babe” that grants entry to the lyrical VIP lounge. Jagger, Ray Davies, Lydon may well be top of the guest list but even they would whither and cringe as Rachel Zeffira and the splendiidly named Faris Badwan trade insults like a couple of carousing toms. On a hot tin roof! “You’re not anyone at all” snarls Rachel, like a leary 14 year old suffering her first alcho-pop high. Only to have the smirk wiped off her face by the worst put down in pop, “I’ve never had trouble getting girls I don’t need”. Ouch. I’ll say that again. Ouch. There’s a sentence that smothers all concerned in shame, to the point where I actually wince every time I hear it. But in a good way. Because like a biblical scapegoat Faris says it so that we don’t have to, leaving us free to bask in this wonderful slice of water retention Shangri-Las whilst dancing the mashed potato that the song demands.
Snot, bile, phlegm and a stomping beat. Do we need anything else from music?