Tuesday, February 16th, 2021

Squid ft. Martha Skye Murphy – Narrator

Per the controversy score, an unreliable one at that…


John Pinto: What we talk about when we talk about Squid: other bands, mostly. So I’m gonna talk about another post-whatever band whose five-letter name also began with “S,” and how we talk about said band (and how we talk about the way we talk about said band, etc.) I love the Lance Bangs documentary Breadcrumb Trail because instead of placing Slint within some “Neil & Crazy Horse/Television/Big Black” historical framework, it portrays Louisville’s proudest sons as part of the far more interesting “high schoolers shooting a monster movie on super 8 in someone’s basement” tradition. It reminds the viewer that any myth-making is their own doing, something to advance their own agendas. So what is Squid concerned with on “Narrator?” A movie, yes, but also the struggle to control narrative, the oppressive influence of an imperfect memory, and how both forces conspire to mold women into whatever shape is most convenient. Y’ever notice that these new post-punk bands — regardless of who’s actually up there making the music — only ever get compared to dudes? I think Squid and Martha Skye Murphy notice. Same as it ever was.

Juana Giaimo: British indie rock seems to live in a world of its own, which sometimes has given us great bands, but other times it just sounds un-charming. The first thing I think when I listen to this is: “Why is this man screaming at me?”. The song’s description says the lyrics are about “a man who is losing the distinction between memory, dream and reality and how you can often mould your memories of people to fit a narrative that benefits your ego”, and that is quite obvious when you read the lyrics because they are rather informative (“I think I made that up” “my memories are so unnatural”, “I am my own narrator”). And that is also a problem in the music. The song seems to be screaming at me: “We make weird music!”, but it’s nearer to an artificial theory than to an emotion.

Edward Okulicz: It’s not just a load of repetitious shouting and screaming, but it is a load of repetitious shouting and screaming. An edgy song, or one that’s trying to be, but it lacks actual edge to its blathering rant.

Oliver Maier: Squid’s brand of dancey post-punk has yet to really capture the genre’s neurotic edge, in that their freakishness often feels rehearsed rather than intuitive. “Narrator” improves as they allow themselves to cut loose, though this is owed in no small part to some truly terrific howling from Martha Skye Murphy. Lead vocalist Ollie Judge is the much weaker link, trying to emulate James Chance and biting Guerilla Toss a little in the process. Murphy, larger than life and endlessly compelling, is the MVP. Give the whole song to her. Hell, just give her the band.

Thomas Inskeep: The way this builds and releases, ebbs and flows, these guys are clearly playing under a “Marquee Moon.” Martha Skye Murphy provides an occasional, spooky-whispered counterpoint (think PJ Harvey at the end of “Down by the Water“) to lead singer/drummer Ollie Judge’s early-James Murphy vocal cues — which makes sense, as there are definitely echoes of first-album LCD Soundsystem here, too. Later in “Narrator,” as it completely unleashes, Martha Murphy starts full-on screaming, which also fits. I hear some Krautrock in here too, but to Squid’s credit, nothing about this sounds derivative. They’re taking their influences and making something pretty original, and pretty fucking great, out of them. 2021’s first great single.

Rodrigo Pasta: I’m so bored of British hipster post-punk rock. I’ve already had to deal with Protomartyr, Black Country New Road, Shame — even IDLES’ edge eventually wore off to reveal how little there was there in the first place. So now we have the new shiny “Act of the Week”; when I’m not bored listening to this, I’m tired. Haven’t we exhausted this sound already? We should have learned our lessons by now. A bassline isn’t funky just because it has a lot of notes on it (especially when the drummer’s so lifeless). Chanting half-sentences for 4 minutes on top of a noisy build up doesn’t immediately turn them into mantras. Shouting doesn’t equal intensity. Noise doesn’t equal intensity. Get back to me when you have something to say. In the meantime, get off my lawn.

David Moore: Post-punk with all the wrinkles ironed out — it honks when it needs to skronk.

Alfred Soto: Other than its length, “Narrator” does many things well. Inspired by 2019’s A Long Day’s Journey Into Night, it repurposes three decades of guitar-damaged post-punk into a supersteady quasi-groove, thanks to which Oliver Judge is just another necessary irritant. 

Anna Katrina Lockwood: An appealing song, initially marred by its fairly unnecessary 8+ minute run time. The courteous young men of Squid have however provided a succinctly edited 4-minute version of this song on the single release. Ideally they’d have revised to hit somewhere between the two — there’s an enjoyable liveliness to their repetition that I found bracing for more of its runtime than expected. Ollie Judge’s vaguely MacKayeian holler sits pleasingly alongside Squid’s restrained motorik Broadcast instrumentation. Squid’s thoughtful reaction to Martha Skye Murphy’s critique — adding her directly to their song to explicate her position — adds a narrative dimensionality that would have been missed were this a simple reflection on their reference text, Bi Gan’s A Long Day’s Journey Into Night. They tend to make unexpected choices within their palette and it’s really quite exciting, if not always flawlessly fulfilled. 

Reader average: [7] (1 vote)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

2 Responses to “Squid ft. Martha Skye Murphy – Narrator”

  1. This is why I love The Singles Jukebox!

  2. Splat!
    You’re a kid! You’re a squid! You’re a kid! You’re a squid!
    You’re a kid now!
    Ink it all now!
    Up the wall now!
    Disappear, going back, then you turn, then attack
    You’re a squid now!
    Rise up off the ink!
    Ambush this dude!
    Spla-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta SPLATOON!

Leave a Reply