Anna Minard claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we're forcing her to listen to all the records that music nerds consider important.
The Madcap Laughs
WARNING: I'm actually going to make musical references in here, so I'm very sorry if I screw it up, and I'm also sorry if they're actually okay and that's confusing. I've been writing this column for a couple years now, so sometimes I remember stuff. Technically, I have a brain.
The first track on The Madcap Laughs is "Terrapin," which is the name of a kind of turtle. It's a gold-sweet little love song, and it's not about turtles at all, really! I guess it mentions underwater creatures, but it's also about someone being great. It makes me want to put together a playlist of animal-related love songs. (Off the top of my head, and just off of previous albums I've listened to for this column: "Terrapin," "My Chinchilla" by Cub, "Ram On" by Paul McCartney, maybe "Roadrunner" by the Modern Lovers, but that's not necessarily a love song. Any other ideas?)
"Terrapin" is calm and sweet, a perfect intro to the rest of Madcap, an album full of warm and joyful weird love. "Oh baby, my hair's on end about you"—it's what we're all waiting to hear from our imaginary underwater musical boyfriends. A lot of the songs on here seem like love songs. In fact, since I just got burned with the backstory behind Oar a few weeks ago, I'm worried that if I google Syd Barrett, it'll be like, "Barrett wrote all the love songs on this album while he was in prison for killing someone." I don't want to ruin anything. So I'M NOT GOOGLING IT AND YOU CAN'T MAKE ME.
Here's what is happening: Syd Barrett and I are sweethearts and we're going to the zoo together. It's raining (we're in England, so of course it's raining) and we've got fantastic big dome-shaped clear umbrellas and we both wear dapper fitted trench coats and we're holding hands and laughing at all the animals and how in love we are. My eyeliner's perfect. That's how this album feels to listen to, pretty much the whole time.
Other things: There's a way these songs get guitar-y that isn't noodle-y. The jam breaks aren't masturbatory; they serve the snappiness and energy of the song as opposed to the pleasure of whoever's holding the guitar. (I don't know and I AIN'T GOOGLING.) "Late Night" is a 100-percent-perfect melancholy night love lament.
Parts of these songs sound vaguely like Pink Floyd and Beatles outtakes. I have no idea if they're contemporaries or friends or enemies or idiots, but that feels right.
When should you listen to this album? (1) When you're inventing a secret boyfriend in your head. (2) On your way to go see someone you're sweet on. (3) At the zoo in the rain.
I give this an "underwater loving" out of 10.