Thursday, 19 May 2011
Secret Affair - My World (1980/ No. 16/ 9 weeks/ I-Spy)
The mod revival of 1979 is not remembered as one of the highlights of British pop history, and perhaps rightly so; Bands with names like The Scooters and The Mods, teenagers in supermarket versions of the snappy attire of their 1960s elders. Secret Affair in particular, as the only band from this movement to have more than one hit, are generally remembered with derision, especially for their fanatical group of followers, the self-styled 'Glory boys'.
What the myth doesn't lead you expect is what these singles actually sound like, attempts to find valiant moments among the absolute mess of youth culture life of the end of the 1970s. These songs are a bit more honest and canny than their idiot reputation might suggest. Hence, the anthemic 'My World' is also a study of confusion and insecurity;
I can feel that taste for life -
And striking the lost chord I find -
nothing new to say!
Someone told me all dressed up -
nowhere to go!
I should have that sinking feeling -
my heeaad huuung low!
The music here is extraordinarily jittery and skittish, especially the hyperactive drums. The string section is not the usual attempt to paste on a sense of gravitas, but conveys a ceaseless restlessness that is both uncomfortable and questing. I've never taken speed, but I think that it might be a lot like this. The chorus is glorious and takes up most of the record; innumerable yelps of "MY world!" - the interior and the universal combined in the minimum number of words. By the fade-out it transforms into a call-and response "My world!" alternating with "Your world!", joining the listener into this very specific and necessary worldview.