Album: Same Trailer, Different Park
Kacey Musgraves is one of the leading lights of what might be my favorite pop music trend of this decade, female country-adjacent singer-songwriters who write their own songs and plot their own course. Obviously Miranda Lambert, but also Brandy Clark, Sarah Shook, Nikki Lane, Margo Price, the list is way longer than you might thing.
In Kacey Musgraves case, she’s been able to balance what are progressive lyrical viewpoints while remaining within the Nashville machine enough to enjoy a huge amount success with both of her albums (and a well-regarded Christmas record).
Still was, of course, a posthumous mop-up operation that was one half odds and sods and one half live album. And as such, it was pretty much, both in terms of sound and style, aimed at completists, as opposed to the casual fan.
(Which raises the question of whether or not there are any casual fans of Joy Division, though I guess that the enduring popularity of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” probably means that there are.)
Joy Division’s music has been classified as so dark and moody — some might even use the term “gothic” — that what is frequently missed is how breathtakingly beautiful it could be, as well.
And nowhere was that beauty more breathtaking than the dark and moody “Atmosphere,” which was released twice as a single in 1980: first in France as a limited edition, then posthumously everywhere else.
This is all about the contrasts. Light and dark, fast and slow, floating and driving. The way that Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris fall apart during the slow parts and come together during the fast parts.
I’m sure that to some of you, the words are important. But I’ll be honest here, I’ve listened to “Twenty Four Hours” countless times in the last 35-plus years and I couldn’t quote you a single line.
From the outside, the spring of 1980 should have been a great great time for Ian Curtis.
At least, from the artistic standpoint, right? After all, Joy Division were about to unleash the follow-up to Unknown Pleasures upon the world, not to mention that they had two more killer singles — this song and “Atmosphere” — already in the can, and on top of all of that, they had written “Ceremony,” so clearly, they were just getting going. The future was totally theirs.
But instead, on May 18, 1980, love tore Ian Curtis apart once and for all, a scant two weeks before the world heard what will no doubt be his most-lasting artistic achievement.