Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

Chris Garneau – Torpedo

Gothic mansion vibes…


Claire Biddles: This year, I’ve been working on a playlist called “Apocalypse.” It’s not very long, but it’s dense; like a dying star seconds before collapse. It’s filled with songs that aren’t about the imminent destruction of the world, but somehow embody this threatening state: “The Light Shines Out of Me” by Magazine, “Search and Destroy” by The Stooges — and “Torpedo” by Chris Garneau. “Torpedo” is a fist-fight of a song; a self-fulfilling prophecy. Garneau speaks of personal instability, then stands back and watches as it grows inside the mind and outside of it; flattening the surrounding earth. “She moves with her friends/They hurt her/She lets them” — then a punch to the face, the earth opening underneath, a hand stretching out to anybody, nobody. It’s almost embarrassingly gothic — that faux-biblical recitation! — but I’m done with coyness in this dying year. I’ve spent so much time with this song, but I still can’t figure it out. Perhaps when its apocalyptic essence physically manifests I’ll understand.

Iain Mew: The taut heartbeat thump-thump of the guitar is excellent in its own right, and Anna Calvi has rightfully made whole songs out of that. For “Torpedo,” though, it’s just a scene-setter before the tidal wave of a chorus rolls through and smashes everything in its path. The first time I heard it I had to take a moment to check at the end of it that I’d still remembered to breathe again, since open-mouthed gasping was the only appropriate response for so much of it. The last time something blew me away with sheer scale this much was Woodkid’s “Run Boy Run” and if “Torpedo” isn’t soundtracking 25% of the UK’s TV trailers by 2024 it will be a missed opportunity.

Vikram Joseph: The two minutes of shadowy, staccato build-up promises a rush of deliverance; it arrives like a summer storm, with a chorus that sounds like it’s been bloodily severed from a power ballad. Garneau’s lyrics are uncertain, awkward even — “she doesn’t feel able, and she’s not very stable” sounds like a sneak preview of Brexit: The Musical — but, like tentative foreplay, it makes it all the more gratifying when he gives himself up to the torrid, emotive rush of the chorus. The strange, sinister spoken-word middle-eight that follows sounds like it’s dying to collapse back into that chorus — “come on, torpedo!” — to feel that crushing weightlessness again, to bury its demons (and more) in somebody else.

Ian Mathers: Mandy was such a riveting experience in the theatre this year partly just because of how mesmerizingly hard it was straining at any given moment, whether quiet or loud, outlandish or naturalistic, to convey the sheer intensity of the given moment (with said intensity ultimately being the most supernatural thing about it). You don’t do that because it’s the only way to make a movie, you do that because that effect can be incredibly powerful, even profound when it’s so well focused and executed. “Torpedo” is similarly suffused with a kind of unearthly dread, whether it’s echoing and terse or raging and booming. Again, you don’t do that because it’s the only way to make a song; you might, though, because it’s the only way to convey something volcanic inside.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Tolerable in its self-seriousness at first, with its gothic synths and tense atmosphere feeling like admirably juvenile attempts at bolstering the corny lyrics. It regrettably builds into a stiff, lethargic rock song reminiscent of The Devil and God-era Brand New. And then there’s an embarrassingly indulgent spoken word section? C’mon.

Katherine St Asaph: Operates at only 60% goth banger throughout, maybe 70% during the chorus, or the spoken-word part that sounds like it’s a second away from describing the Satanic Temple’s Baphomet (did you know it’s actually a throne?). It’s like there’s some missing final chorus, another register shift that actually sounds like a torpedo instead of a slow, faraway cloud; or like the actual dramatic chorus would be sung by the woman described, instead of the dude half-singing “she doesn’t feel able, and she’s not very stable” like he’s rehearsing Frederic’s “beautiful Mabel” recitative from The Pirates of Penzance. Scored accordingly.

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