My sister in law recently got a chicken bone caught in her throat. She’s fine, but what was allegedly a very nice meal left her in a state that was apparently not unlike watching a cat cough up a fur-ball. As I sit here repeatedly listening to Lost Sirens my brain is stuck on this image and I feel like the album at this point really needs a Heimlich manoeuvre.
Perhaps I’m being a little disingenuous of Shake It Up, but the song gets stuck in my craw for 2 reasons: a) Bernard’s “wannas” and “gottas” – together with the whole Rock The Shack-esque “shake it up – YEAH! (repeat)” – palaver, and b) the tube / distortion effect applied to the guitar stabs which make them sound like a mating toad, particularly as they come after a 30-second intro that offers such potential; suggesting a completely different song altogether is about to kick in. The choruses work fine, with Bernard’s switch to a lower register and the “does it ever” callout, but the verses let the song down – as has been the case with numerous tracks over the London-period albums, here because they sound (again) like a lesser band’s cheap attempt at trailer pop. The “NO!” and “HEY!” shout-outs are the point at which the chicken bones lodge themselves right in, and I gesticulate to anyone close-by that I need a whack on my back between the shoulder blades. Also “you’re coming all over like a piece of cake” has to be one of the poorest lyrics I’ve ever heard on a Sumner-penned record. The feedback section below welcomes your worse suggestions.
Yet, as I’ve pointed out on more than a few occasions, there are all the elements of a much better song in here. The intro, the choruses, the rolling synth bass pattern, the under-utilised arpeggiating keyboard loop (e.g. at the instrumental break at 2:15), and the outro which features great strings and that synth bass line to good effect. Overall I think it’s a production issue, and somewhere in the Cenzo Townshend / Mac Quayle / band’s production efforts someone should have stood back, listened again, and tried a different approach to the mix.
Shaking up your life for a better tomorrow is a fine sentiment, made all the more potent and interesting given the state of the band at the time, and particularly at the time of Lost Sirens‘ release, but unfortunately this song is not one where if I chew it slowly it will go down better. The chicken stops here.
Available on: Lost Sirens