Since Lost Sirens‘ release I’ve tried to convince myself to dislike this song. In hindsight this was probably an autosuggestion that anything written by New Order involving wild horses, open plains, grocery stores, or lawn on the West Coast (is it that good? – answers on a postcard please) was destined to be dodgy. Grass eh? Or are we talking grass… because that would be something that could be ‘brought’ to Bernard, as distinct from a pallet of Californian turf which would be a pricey (and pointless) shipping proposition to Cheshire, where I hear the lawns are very fine indeed.
But then again this could all be a simple tale of feeling down and dreaming of another place and simpler things, even if only in the mind’s eye. Californian Grass is actually quite a decent track, with much to like if given half a chance. In recent years Bernard – by virtue of age or zeal – has opted in a number of songs (and live performances) for singing at lower registers; and here he croons the verses much deeper than usual. It’s not disagreeable, particularly as he switches back and forth to his usual highs during the choruses which have a tasteful vocal harmony layered in the mix.
Sonically Californian Grass seems to splice soft rock, the ‘Californian Sound’, country, shoegaze and alternative pop, which is a potential recipe for disaster, but against all the odds Sumner, Hook, Morris and Cunningham have somehow made it work. For me its success lies in New Order’s innate alchemy for extracting melody and melancholy, even from the most unlikely of elements. I’m also drawn to the organ ‘loop’ used throughout, the subtle flourishes of guitar tone (e.g. at 00:40 and 00:48), Hooky’s bass that signals and backs the choruses, and indeed the beautifully layered guitars during the choruses. Stephen Street (and the band) did well.
Unexpectedly I don’t mind this song at all, and have enjoyed ‘shining a light’ on it again after such a long time on the shelf.
P.S Can I jump straight to Music Complete now please?
Available on: Lost Sirens