Wednesday, July 22, 2020

It's the reason I exist

I had tickets to see Amyl and The Sniffers at Lincoln Hall in Chicago back in May. Well, yeah. The show's been rescheduled for October. Well, yeah. [Edit: well, nevermind.]

So, who knows when I'll be able to catch the Melbourne, Australia band whose intense songs and live reputation have created a major buzz since their self-titled 2019 debut. Meanwhile, I've got the videos and the songs. "Control" is a riveting track that, like the best rock and roll, is poised between command and chaos. The song's about the singer's obsession with being in charge, made all the more powerful and urgent given that it's sung by a woman, the tiny stick of TNT known as Amy Taylor. (She's also been dubbed a “human firework.") Gender politics aside, what's most galvanizing about the song is the tension between what it's saying and what it's doing, the band harnessing their considerable three-chord firepower to both support the singer's declaration and to make it vulnerable to implosion. "I like being a big bad boss," Taylor sings, sexily. "I like telling people off."
I like working under pressure
I'm a freak, it gives me pleasure 
I like control, I’m obsessed
She likes staying up all night, yet also being treated right. She gets off on proving people wrong, as she should, yet grimly recognizes that because of that she'll "probably...die alone." Frankly, she claims, it's "the reason I exist." What is? Control, or the obsession with it? The fact that she needs it, or the fact that she succeeds at it? In the stunning bridge, Taylor chants I like control until it becomes a mantra more dimensional with each declaration, as the band builds intensity vamping a single chord. Moving to the second chord might topple things, so precarious is the balance between authority and anarchy, yet the band holds it together. By the sound of Taylor's excitable screeches at the end, she might be on the brink of losing grip on things altogether. Ot maybe it's glee. Two and a half minutes is all this boss needs, or all she can handle, it's hard to say.

I feel as if I need to hear this song more every day, not only because my withdrawal pangs from not seeing shows are reaching epic levels, but because the overwhelming urge to control things—politics, other people, a virus—beyond my ability to do. Cranking one of the great rock and roll songs of the last couple of years helps me to press re-set. Turn it up—in a controlled environment.

Bottom photo by Jamie Wdziekonski via Monster Children


Claire said...

Well shit. Is this the Cramps/Joan Jett fusion of badassery I've been waiting for?

Joe Bonomo said...

Yes! :-)