Some songs, all the elements are right and they still don’t work. Your favourite artist, your favourite remixer, a great song and it’s a dud. So you get to be suspicious of a song that has all the right credibility before you’ve heard it, having learned from experience that the sum of the parts is less than you’d hope.
If, therefore, I’d heard of Disco Compilation before I’d heard it I’d’ve been wary. Produced by Jarvis Cocker, a wistful folk-style lament about how disco is the best transformed by old-skool house piano and horns, it sounds too much my thing to be true. But I heard it before I heard of it, played with no special enthusiasm by Lauren Laverne on 6Music, and tracked down the video online, and knew it would be the opening song of a compilation on second listen. It was immediate.
There’s not much to the song. It begins with that vocal, precise and fey in a Cropredy way, which provides the only melody line as it twists in on itself and finds defiance in a disco complication CD. The singer has learned from disco, lives a life in the blacklight of songs once famously held in contempt and still disregarded by the partner, the probably-a-guy she’s singing to. The guy who very probably venerates the canon, Astral Weeks and Nick Drake and Neil Young and all those bores of rock. And as she continues, as the melody and lyrics together hit the disco bedrock and find a chorus, the beat comes in and this is no longer a song about songs to dance to but is itself a song to dance to. It becomes a groove, embraces banality and repetition and twinkly layers.
It doesn’t do much after that. It just repeats itself, the bass beat never going away but the second time through becoming more emphatic, the dancefloor still audible, the piano fading in, every moving part simple and irresistible. It doesn’t have to do much. Dance songs don’t reward complication.
I’m a disco man at heart. I’ve liked rock music but never as much as I like pop, the effortless charm of a new song that maybe, like this one, does about two things but does them so well. This song encapsulates so much of what I want to hear, what I’m always out here on the other side of the speakers waiting to hear, while it rewards me for being on the right side of history. It is a nighttime world.
Artist: Serafina Steer
Title: Disco Compilation
Compilation: Coyote Summer