Friday, 14 December 2007


Chicago, late 1994: Albini is recording a low-key, low-burning post-Gen X quartet. The scarcely circulated album is entitled Fashionably Lame and “Routine” is the even scarcer single extracted from the album, a hushed, solemn cycle of four major-augmented minor Farfisa organ chords which sounds like a hymn to be hummed in the remotest niche of the city. The album credits aren’t vocal specific but it sounds as though bassist Chris Guice is double tracking himself. Confusingly both Guices sound like Chris Difford and thus “Routine” marks out Lizard Music as a belated missing link between Squeeze and Slint. Ancient pop tropes – “Cool teen, I think you’ll hit the town” – mix with internal rumblings (“Even if I’m in cul de sac”) and post-Kurt cinders (“Just to satisfy my junkie style”) rekindle into shapes of Joy Division (“Fall into raincoats once again”) with a life supporting sopranino organ bleep on the bridge (“Wish him luck on the ships ahoy/I tasted tear in my junkie smile”) falling into an unduly animated middle eight (“A time to show Helene there’s no tricks up my sleeve”) before rising back towards the transept of solemnity as the first verse is repeated and fades into mirrored whiteouts of “my vanity.” I thought I dreamt hearing it on the radio and finding a copy in whichever shop I found it; along with other stray American darts from that period (Eels’ Daisies Of The Galaxy at the other extreme/bookend) it still feels like a pop just too tender to materialise.