City Air – Coming home from seeing The Tears play at The Astoria in London, February 2005, I was trying to remember how ‘The Lovers’ went and I came up with this on the guitar. I knew it was special and hung onto it for ages waiting for the right person to write the lyrics and vocal melody. I love Danny Gold’s two synth notes that herald the second chorus.
The Way I Don’t Kiss – I had written this on guitar and then recorded a synthy demo which became the blueprint for the version we did on ‘In Retrospect’. On a whim, we tried it out during a rehearsal for the Birthmark and Mainland sessions with Laurence Owen on bass and Grant Purser on drums. It went so well we knew we had to record it as a full band. The recording is Eric Donohue on bass and Patrick Ahern on drums, basics done in one take at the Boston sessions. The little major key funk riff with the sliding octaves during the last time through the second verse is perhaps my favourite thing I’ve ever put on record.
Awkward Scenes – The demo was entitled FaB Shadows, which was (very) short for ‘F minor and B flat minor’ and the music being darker than my usual songs. When we had the offer to make the album, I would go to rehearsal rooms during the day to get out of the flat and focus on writing. This one was polished off alone with an acoustic at Strummer Studios in Holloway one afternoon. Again, the basics were done in Boston in one take. Really was an amazing feeling.
Your Likely Years – A guitar figure in E flat that I really love. The demo was called ‘Cinnamon Shoppes’ after the Bruno Schulz short story. The first of the acoustic songs we recorded at David’s.
Birthmark – Re-recorded and differing quite a bit from the ‘In Retropsect’ version. On checking the relevant email now, it seems I may have misread a comment by Ryan Labato from the I Am The Programmer podcast that led me to believe the song could use a lot more melody. Anyway here it is. Recording all those extra guitar parts with Simon Nelson was a blast, he’s always up for sonic experiments (as is Danny Gold, who helmed the Boston sessions).
Small Salvage – Another rare minor outing for me. Danny Gold’s low synth strings always make me pause and smile at how expansive it gets there. This was the last song done at the Boston full band sessions and I, being tired, thought I was just going to add my guitar again later. When I announced this, there were shouts from the control room ‘No, no, the guitar is sounding great, you need to nail it now!’
On The Mainland – One of my favourite pieces of music I’ve ever written. April 2011, I was waiting for my companion to come to my flat before the Stay Beautiful reunion and this came out.
Losing My Place – Holds a special place in my heart as it was the first song written for the album. I had sent David some initial demos and I fondly remember him telling me about it at Brumfields (live drummer Steve Brummell’s annual birthday party in Highgate Wood). Brumfields 2006 was actually where I first met David. Having been a huge Luxembourg fan, I slowly met them all that year. I’d met Steve a few weeks before (at Zed One rehearsal space, H Bird were on their way out and Steve on his way in), he told me I ‘must come to Brumfields this year’. Also met Sina there too, who has supplied all the Close-Ups artwork.
Eiscafe – Another of my favourite ever pieces of music I’ve written. Every time I listen to it I’m so thankful this came through my fingers. With Suede’s ‘The Wild Ones’ in mind, Simon suggested recording this with the studio windows open.
Inroads – And again. I think this is just lovely. Something very English about it. David Barnett thinks it is Beatles-y. I’m put in mind of David Devant & His Spirit Wife, particularly its descending chromatic figure reminds me of the way ‘Groover’ ascends.
by Aug Stone
Album is available at our Bandcamp