When we first moved to Ottawa in 2001, my wife Victoria was working for Rogers Cable, having transferred there with her job in the company’s call centre. After a couple of months, though, she end up quitting the job when she found it too much with the workload that her studies demanded. It was good for her in the long run but we took a hit financially for a while and we lost the benefit we received of discounted digital cable service. I may be misremembering it now but I feel like we had every channel known to humankind for the low, low price of free. Of course, we couldn’t afford such luxury on my own meagre salary, so the cable service was cancelled completely when she left the job.
One of the channels I discovered during that brief period was the Edge channel. Connected, I believe, to Toronto’s alternative rock radio channel, it played more music videos than the traditional MuchMusic was doing at the time and of the specific type of music that often appealed to me. And it was here that I first heard the song (and watched the video for) “Stop your crying” by Spiritualized.
I knew that a new album by the band was forthcoming, of course. I had been hotly anticipating it since I fell hard for their third album, 1997’s “Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space”, and in the four year interim, had gone back to purchase and play and replay the previous two. Jason Pierce, meanwhile, had sacked the majority of the band after the “Ladies and gentlemen” tours, enlisted new players, and brought in over a hundred other hands to help record the new album. For “Let it come down”, he moved away from the shoegaze and space, towards a different wall of sound created by symphonic elements: horns and strings and choirs.
The aforementioned video for the song matches the mood and flow of the song perfectly, starting with Jason Pierce seemingly standing alone on a stage during the song’s quiet intro and punch-to-the-gut opening lines. “Nothing hurts you like the pain of someone you love. There ain’t nothing you can gain that prepares you enough.” Then, the lights come up, revealing a stage full of musicians for the exuberance of the chorus lines, while Pierce remains still, singing, oblivious to the other players on the stage, still alone. And he does this throughout, even at the end, when the orchestra is trashing the place and their instruments, he is focused on delivering his message of love and hurt. The video is cut with stills showing images of Pierce and members of his band at intimate moments, suggesting that each of them (and really, us) are all dealing with personal demons and angst. And Pierce, at the centre of this whole storm, wants to take all of our pain away. So great.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2001 list, click here.