Californian Grass

Recoil < Californian Grass > Shake It Up

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.

Rating: xxxio

P.S Can I jump straight to Music Complete now please?

Available on: Lost Sirens

5 thoughts on “Californian Grass

    1. Agree I can’t wait to hear your MC reviews. The next two are hardly career highlights (although quite like the guitar riff in I’ve Got a Feeling).

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Iggy Pop sang this at a Tibet event at NYC’s Carnegie Hall with Bernard a couple of years back – great for his voice – worth hunting down the video

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really like this song. It’s my third fave off lost sirens (after (I’ll stay with you and recoil).

    I like the low register Bernard sings in but he seems to come in an octave or two too high on second verse, before bringing it back down.

    One thing that bugged me was the chorus lyrics. Then today (after 5 or whatever years) I realised I had been mishearing one line for all this time.

    I’ve always presumed it went “give me all that I ask, some kind of funny grass”. Which I thought was a bit clumsy use of words. It wasn’t till I heard the Tibet concert performance with Iggy Pop taking on vocal duties that I heard it as “give me all that I ask, some Californian grass”.

    Ah….the penny dropped. I never suspected the song title was actually used in the song (which is a rarity with new order).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The song with the most swagger on LS. Low vocals work well and after reading an interview where Bernard Sumner said Iggy Pop was the voice he had in mind for this song it was intresting to hear the shirtless one sing a version of it at the At the Tibet House US benefit concert.

    Liked by 1 person

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