>It goes without saying that It’s Grim Up North this time of year. In fact, it’s been grim up here for pretty much the whole of this year, but let’s not dwell on that now, in case the uncontrollable weeping starts again. When this particularly northern grimness overwhelms one’s soul, there are only two viable musical courses of action.
Firstly, the default option of Just Cheer The Hell Up, Saddo, which is initiated by the liberal application of Gabber (thanks, Holland), or spinning a couple of BONKERS! Happy Hardcore CDs (preferably in a souped-up Vauxhall Nova), or maybe just the sensible option of listening to Happy by the Stones.
That option is diversion therapy of sorts, and an entirely normal approach to life. Well, except maybe listening to Gabber, which I believe is usually seen these days by doctors as a diagnosis of mental illness. The second option is just to wallow in that miserablism and just luxuriate in that gloominess. Don’t knock it – Morrissey got two whole careers out of doing just that.
Inevitably, this brings us to Today’s New Band. I’m sure that Rob St. John are actually an entirely upbeat bunch, and their hobbies may well include gaily skipping through fields, making daisy chains and excitedly squealing whilst feeding baby animals, but their music is glummer than listening to Leonard Cohen reading Kurt Cobain‘s diaries out loud. (Note to self – patent that idea double-quick, there’s big money to be made there)
Kurt said there was a “comfort in being sad”, and that lovely, skewed approach permeates Rob St’ John‘s songs. Paper Ships is six-minutes of desolate sadness which also manages to be warm, gentle and uplifting despite the seemingly end-of-world feeling. A Red Heron is as close to upbeat as the band gets – tinkling sweetly like a music box, and slowly growing into a big, black, campfire song.
Rob St. John might just cheer you up, if you need it, or they might make you feel more gloomy than before. Whichever outcome, your soul’ll be stirred, and that is a rare thing indeed. Listen here, and then come back tomorrow, when everything will be much less miserable, I promise.