Release Date 08/03/2010 (Epic)
By Elinor O’Neill
Along with loss and love, unrequited love has long been one of the great themes of literature and music. Unrequited love lacks any of the beauty or purity of real love. It is dark, obsessive and can destroy those who dwell in it. In music, however, many songs about this love are often poignantly beautiful in their raw honesty and expression. Ignoring the dreadful drones of James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful, many of Aretha Franklin’s best ballads were about unrequited love, and even Wheatus had a hit with Teenage Dirt Bag, a tearjerker of a tune which tells the tale of a geek in love with a girl who will never know his name.
Lemar’s new album “The Hits” is jam packed full of ballads about this subject. And although listening to one or two tracks is a pain free possibility, hearing him moan on for fifteen tracks about rejection and heartbreak is akin to the pain of watching as the tabloids pull girl after girl from the kiss and tell closet of Ashley Cole’s past. It might appear to be entertaining at first but ultimately it makes for a rather dull, depressing read, and by the time the 500th girl is named we have all switched over on to something less sad.
In fairness to Lemar he is a rather good singer with a great range, and there are some tracks on the album which are bearable. “It’s Not That Easy” stands out with its boppy beginning. But unfortunately it becomes grating when, towards the end, annoyingly angelic backing vocals are thrown thoughtlessly into the mix. “You Don’t Love Me” has been combined with “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by Vanilla Fudge to create a pretty funky little dance tune, which gets one’s brain buzzing with fantasies about a dance off between Lemar and Run DMC on an 80s disco dance floor.
There are a host of classic Lemar tunes for hardcore fans to get their groove on to, but most will find 50/50 and Dance do not carry well into 2010 seeming somewhat dated. There is a pretty impressive duet with JLS on “What About Love” where Lemar’s voice is undoubtedly the best of the five thanks to its simplicity and strength. Throughout the album, though, this voice is compromised as tune after tune is tainted by show off singing and excessive overdubbing as well as the dreadful subject matter.
As the Mamas and the Papas sang in “Glad To Be Unhappy” unrequited love can be a bore, and in choosing to centre nearly every track upon this subject Lemar ensures the record is a painful production which leaves one depressed and bored in equal measure. Even my mother usually a tolerant woman begs me to, “Turn that awful noise off.”
At last I hear you say, the end of the story is nigh. Today I considered not finishing this little modern-day romantic fairy tale because I have had a bloody awful day. I thought that if I was going to write this blog, I was going to do so by waxing lyrical on how utterly awful I am feeling; how sick I am of taking tablets which leave me nauseous and sleepy; and, how awfully cross I am about finding I have put on weight, another joyful side effect of quetiapine. Instead however I have decided to swallow down the bitterness and rather than dwell on the present pain to immerse myself instead in the ghosts of my past in the hope I can fight off the persistent pull of negativity which has been weighing me down since yesterday.
And so the boy and I after spending a night and day together but had parted ways with no way of contacting one another. Luckily our mischievous matchmaking friend had more up her sleeve having decided we were the perfect match. The next day whilst I was daydreaming about the boy and puzzling over whether or not I should go on a date with the other Chris, the boy was sending a message to our friend along the lines of, “Niki I’m a total idiot, I forgot to ask her for her number. Please can you send it to me.” Niki did not hesitate to strum the strings of fate and shortly after I received a text from the boy asking if I wanted to come and see him play a gig at Glass in Fallowfield. In all honesty I wasn’t terribly impressed, in spite of taking a fancy to him whilst he was on stage, I was certainly not about to behave like some kind of groupie girl and go along to watch adoringly as he drummed away like a toy soldier. Instead I went out with some friends and it was not until he invited me on a proper date, to see Gideon and The Deadbeats, now known as The Ten Bears, that I conceded to come along.
When I went to meet him I arrived early so I could catch up with my friend and after admitting I was rather terrified about the prospect of going alone to a gig with a man I barely know she decided it would be best to come along to assist with the magic, and also because she really fancied seeing the band. As this was the wonderful hazy days before the smoking ban, the Academy looked rather magical and with the hippy smoke floating about it was hard not to relax a little and take in the music. Gideon Conn is a bit of a lyrical genius and when he played the little ditty, Londonderry, which is about a first date between two people who are from Derry gosh darn it not Londonderry, I leaned back into the boys chest and felt rather loved up. We ended up all going back to his place for some drinks after the gig and when my friend and her lover went to bed we shared a little kiss before I went on home. I was mad at myself because i was being so careful to take it slow, because I knew I really liked him and was aware most of the last years affairs had ended as a result of me becoming too quickly involved. Though the kiss was nice it was a little too much down to how much we had drunk to steady our nerves.
After this date I tried to back away a little bit and after talking to some friends decided the best thing to do was to play it cool. I was in the middle of doing a dissertation on dating literature and though I had condemned the Rules as utter rubbish more dangerous to women than sexist males there were a few things I had taken from it. For example if you make it too easy for a man it can take away the fun of the chase and they will soon be looking for another lady who is willing to treats them mean. Though there is no way of knowing whether the boy would have been as keen on me if I had turned over on the night we first shared a bed and given him a good snogging, I am always glad we took things a day at a time. It made everything so much fun and meant we went on a host of date nights including a disastrous cinema outing where I demanded we leave after 10 minutes because it was so dire and a pub crawl which was rather messy but all of them ended in the same civil manner with a bit of a peck and then a goodnight sweetheart.
As our first date was spent in the company of a chaperone, we have come to the conclusion over the years that the night on which we should celebrate our anniversary is the first date we had by ourselves. I was completely nervous about the whole experience as by then I knew I really rather liked him but was still technically dating the other Chris though I knew it was just a matter of time before it fizzled out. After several hundred outfit changes I settled on a knee-length reddy brown leather skirt, a pair of black Red or Dead pointy ankle boots with a silver spike heel and buckles which one of my exes had brought me, a black T-Shirt and a frilly sleeveless black polo neck over the t-shirt to hide the ridiculous print on the t-shirt. Over the whole thing I had to wrap myself in my Burberry Mac which I was cross about because it meant the first thing he saw when I walked in would be the coat and not the carefully chosen outfit.
We were both late for the date, though I had messaged ahead to tell him not to hurry he still got there before me and was sat with a drink and a cigarette looking nervous. I couldn’t spot him when I first came in and the butterflies in my stomach started to dance about. He smiled when he saw me and I myself felt all a flutter when I saw he had made an effort to look nice. I fancied him and we had the nicest evening chatting about music, life, art and even our mutual friends and our own families. The evening took a bit of a turn when he decided, or maybe it was me that it was only fair we brought a second bottle of wine so as not to leave the other person out-of-pocket. I am by my own omission a total light weight and when we got on the bus I was horribly aware that I had drunk too much. He had suggested going for another drink in Withington at Solomon and Grundys which would soon become our local hang out, but when the bus started to move I was suddenly aware of how much I needed to get some fresh air. Turning to him I muttered something vague about having had a lovely evening and how it really was time to go home, then I lurched off the bus. I still could have retained some of my dignity if he had not stepped off with me sensing something was amiss and had the pleasure of watching his date throw up outside a building site in Fallowfield, a friend of mine later moved into the flats and I never had the courage to tell her I had thrown up in the foundations of her flat.
In all credit to him the boy was an utter star. rather than leave me to stagger home poorly and vulnerable he looked after me and took me back to his house. He tucked me into bed fully clothed but got me lots of water and a bowl, just in case. He shared the bed with me but surprisingly enough didn’t try anything funny and when he got up in the morning to go to work he kissed my forehead and brought me a cup of tea and left me some money just in case to get a cab home. I was utterly humiliated and as soon as he had gone I pulled on my jacket and bolted out the door. After a daytime nap I came clean to my flat mates about the dreadful date and was subjected to hours of teasing and even drawings to illustrate the incident as well as cries of, “well at least you’ll know he is not calling you because you slept together.” After it got past three however they seemed to have exhausted their insults and were now acting quite sympathetically as it had become clear he was never going to text back. I started to cry a little and decided to stop obsessing about it and leaving my phone in my room I joined the boys for our Friends and scrubs marathon. When I came upstairs to bed later on it was to find he had sent me a message after all: “Hey sweetie, you looked really pretty this morning. Was horrible leaving you. Hope you are feeling better, thanks for a great date x The rest as they say is history.
- Today’s dress is on loan from my lovely Auntie Bridgeen. It is from Primark and she loves wearing it on holiday. I managed to do something to my hair in spite of being fed up, put it in a bun after washing it then letting it down in the rain, and am wearing it with a vest for the cold and some suede black boots and opaque black tights for the warmth. The giant took the photos today thus why they are as my mother said a lot more demure than usual.
There is a photo from the night the boy and I first got it together. It shows him in the foreground grinning in a grey jumper, which will soon become my favourite, and me in the background of the photo. There is a Marlboro Medium balanced expertly between my middle fingers and I am looking down at the ground whilst talking to another guy. I am completely oblivious of the photo being taken or of the boy who is standing mere meters away.
I near enough remember the moment because I was thinking about leaving to meet a guy I’d been on a few dates with who messaged me to ask him to join him in Fallowfield. Whilst looking for my coat I bumped into two troublesome friends who insisted I join them in putting the world to rights by combining a small bottle of cola with a big bottle of Jack.
It turned out to be one of the best house parties I have ever been to. Held above the One Stop Shop in a ten bedroom flat shared by seven lads who each had a love of the good life, people in Withington and far further afield still remember it fondly to this day. The party featured two live performances from The Schmatte Kid and another band as well as a pretty incredible DJ set which carried us through till sunrise the next morning. There were random rooms all over the house to chill out in, one of which had easy listening music and pretty fairy lights. The toilets were communal, the floor was our ashtray and anyone who came to tell the lads to turn the music down just ended up joining in the fun.
At about 8am I remember turning to my friend who had invited me and begging her for a spot to sleep. By this time we had completely run out of alcohol and though there was talk of trying to tunnel our way downstairs to get more drink the plan seemed a tad far-fetched and it was starting to feel as though it was time for bed. Although my friend is a lot more hardcore than me, as only good friends do she took pity on me and directed me to a place of peace upstairs. There was a couple of people passed out at the very end of the bed but being too tired to care I dived under the duvet and lay my head down. Soon I had drifted off into a sweet disco dream. All of a sudden I jolted awake upon feeling the duvet mov as someone clambered into bed beside me. Feeling more cross than cautious I turned over to find the musical Nazi looking back at me not at all anxious about his ungentlemanly behaviour. ”What the hell do you think you are doing?” I muttered murderously, “I am trying to sleep.” He looked back at me rather bemused and said, “But this is my bed.”
Rather than get into a Goldilocks and the Three Bears style argument or worse still risk admitting I had been mistaken in where I had laid my hat (I hadn’t, this was my fiendish friends idea of matchmaking) I turned to face the wall and fell straight back to sleep. Before I did I remember grumbling incoherently about how he had better not try anything if he didn’t want to find out the full strength of a girl in her third week of self defence classes. We fell asleep far apart but when I woke in the morning it was to find his arm wrapped around me and though I am not quite sure why I didn’t bother to remove it and fell back to sleep in his arms till nightfall that day. When I woke up he was gone, as were the couple from the foot of the bed. Feeling extremely confused, hungry and admittedly in need of some serious plonk plonk fizz action, I skulked down the stairs to find a host of people watching Black Adder. Thankfully both my friend and the boy were still about, he was dressed in jeans, a t-shirt and a dressing gown and looked dishevelled but still rather dashing. He offered me a coffee, his jumper and even let me join him in a mass Dominoes delivery order to the flat advising me on the most tasty of the options. We spent the rest of the evening together, not really talking just sitting close to each other. Though he never even tried to put his arm round me I remember wanting him too the whole time. We watched reruns and rubbish Sunday night TV till it got to midnight and I managed to force myself to get up and leave. Though he saw me to the door and waved me off down the street he didn’t kiss me goodbye nor say anything much about meeting again. I jumped into a taxi cab home, a treat to myself and a rare nod to safety precautions and rode back home where my own boys were waiting to tease me relentlessly about being a dirty stop out. It wasn’t until we both got into our separate beds that night that I realised I couldn’t stop thinking about him and he realised he had forgotten to ask for my number.
- Today’s dress is on loan from my Mummy. She used to wear it in the age of power dressing and the shoulder pads are terrifying but the cut is oddly feminine and the pockets placed in the side give it a tom-boy feel which I play up by pulling my hair back and wearing chunky statement Kurt Geiger heels which aren’t feminine but are the ultimate statement heel and hopefully stop me looking too twee. My hair is terrible, but I am tired today and what with cooking crumbles, going out for Sunday lunch and trying to catch up with reviews and blogs which suffered during last week I just can’t find it in me to make it better.
Every relationship has a beginning. In the traditional American dating system, the home of The Rules, the beginning is usually quite clear to both parties. There is a first date which led on to a second, a third, marriage and children. In Britain, we tend to have a rather different approach to dating which does not involve asking a fellow whether he plans to have children in the near future by the time dessert has been served. Most of my relationships have begun by a night-time snog aided by a few apple sours or back in the day the toxic orange Reef drink. They slowly become something after the first meet, by the aid of a couple of texts and a meet up in a bar where you both sort of remember what the other look like but are still fairly surprised when they turn out to have had purple hair or a tendency to wear tight T-shirts which showcase their nipples. Although liaisons and nights spent sitting up chatting till sunrise are a common feature of the start of our relationship it is far less common to begin an affair with a traditional date. Relationships then in England tend to become official far more organically than they might in other cultures where booze is not the nation’s primary aphrodisiac.
As it turned out today was our actual anniversary I thought I would share the story of our courtship. It is a story most of our friends know and is happily lacking in sonnets and musical midnight serenades. What does feature in the tale of our coupling is a pair of “kinky” black suede boots, one of Manchester’s biggest cattle markets and an argument about Jack Johnson.
The first time myself and the boy made eyes at each other was when he played a performance gig at Jabez Clegg where I was working as a barmaid. The band was called Onions and though his other band The Schmatte Kid went their separate ways without ever really informing each other, Onions itself is still going strong today. Occasionally there are groupies at gigs which cause me a fair amount of annoyance but one can deal with them directly by planting a great big smooch on one’s musical man immediately after the gig, just as they come off stage. Admittedly this does mean one gets covered in performance perspiration but it really is necessary to mark one’s turf when there are predatory indie chicks about.
What was strange about the night myself and the boy met was that as I went amongst the crowd of annoyingly amorous students some of whom would try to “give me a hand there darling”, or put their paws on me, I couldn’t help but notice the drummer was looking over in my direction whilst he happily bippity bip bopped away. Reminding myself I had once managed to convince myself Justin Timberlake had given me the eye at a sell-out concert at the MEN I brushed the thought aside and continued to collect up the dregs and fag ends.
After the gig was over I was downstairs on the bar finishing up. I had grown a tad sick of the place as I had foolishly got involved with a guy who I worked with who was lovely but totally not interested in anything but a fling. This was fair enough but when it came to a rather abrupt ending I was left feeling rather uncomfortable in the work place. As it was he was luckily not there that night so I was feeling happier than I had done in days. A friend who I worked with, the cupid in this tale, Nicola Steele, was sitting with some friends so I went over to have a quick catch up whilst collecting the glasses. When I got over there I noticed the drummer boy sat across from her. He was dressed in a really lovely looking shirt and tie with his hair all nicely spiked up and a lovely big smile on his face. Whilst collecting the glasses from the table I stood behind the drummer and mouthed to my friend, though I do not remember this, “Who is he, he’s well fit.”
According to the boy before I had come over he had been considering whether or not to approach me and offer me a drink. After deciding I was far too much of a lady too be approached in such a way he voiced his thoughts to his friends girlfriend who told him that any girl wearing knee-high boots and fish net tights would not be mortally offended by such an intrusion.
In the end he chickened out. The next time we saw one another we were in a large group at Trof and he was acting like an eejot. After insulting my musical taste, he told me Jack Johnson was a talentless nobody and even yelled at me. As a result I decided he was far too arrogant and set off to meet a guy I’d been seeing at the cinema. I did not leave the bar however before I’d turned to him and called him a musical Nazi.
When he got home that night his friend asked him whether the girl he had spent the night insulting was in-fact the one he was trying to get with. His face fell as he said: “Yeah. I’ve blown it haven’t I? And indeed he had. I went to my date that night resolved to give the guy I was dating more of a chance; after all he might not set me alight but at least he didn’t yell at me.
- Today’s dress is another gift from my fairy god mother. I believe it is from Next and is lovely and silky. It is cute but low cut enough to prevent it looking too girly. As it was our anniversary and unfortunately pouring it down I put on some thick purple tights with hearts stencilled in to them and black knee high leather boots. Really I could have done with some brown as the black took away from the flirtiness of it and made it a little too harsh looking but I wasn’t about to ruin any shoes on the way down to watch the rugby at The Kings Head with the boy and an old friend.