Thursday, July 2, 2009

2001 : 24 "Christina" by Gorky's Zygotic Mycni

A lot of bands in the wake of Belle & Sebastian wore their influences on their foppish sleeves; employing superfluous flugel horns, harpsichords, and references to Free Design to disguise shitty songwriting. Songs like "Christina" separate the real deals from the affectations of sissies wanting to get laid. Very few bands could pull off simple lines like "Christina/I saw you in a magazine-a" and make them melancholy. The song succeeds as an heir to The Left Banke's "Pretty Ballerina," but ultimately upends romance for a lonely stalker's obsession.

I was lucky enough to see the band before they broke up, in a rare US performance. They were making up a Philadelphia appearance at The Khyber rescheduled due to 9/11, at a time when you could still smoke in bars. They played "Christina." Despite the fact they were not backed live by the studio orchestra the swarms the song's opening, it was compelling. Singer Euros Childs could never be confused for a handsome man—a scrawny Welshman, hunched over a keyboard singing "What's the point of living if we can't be together / I'm coming on to shoot you / the sooner the better." This wasn't a pity party or even cheap misogyny. For every band attempting to ape the chamber pop style—a bunch of beautiful tourists pretending to be nostalgic—there are a few true losers who are too sentimental to let it die. How dare you be so beautiful when I'm so miserable? "Christina" is "Psycho Killer" for the Donovan set.

James Specht

Listen: Gorky's Zygotic Mycni >> "Christina"

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