I don’t know how I could’ve missed it. They arrived in Spain, for God’s sake! I had visions of Indiana Jones style adventures in ancient spanish forts – I think there could’ve been nazis – but clearly I am t3h fule. Where else would our merry band of wreck heads end up on their european jaunt but Ibiza? I mean, where would they be without the distant thrumming bass, the all night bars and dingy alcoves just off the heaving, red lit dancefloor, sweat plop-plopping on their foreheads? It’s the young liar’s natural habitat, only just as hot outside the clubs and soundtracked not by Sonic Youth or the Pixies, but by Paul Oakenfold and Arsenal football club chants.

And, before I get into this issue’s tunes in detail, this is something I feel I have to address.

I have a lovely friend called Roger Larry (he’s not really called Roger Larry) who, in the early nineties, would occassionaly go raving on Hasting’s Pier. The pier largely hosted jungle events, and, come the weekend, was seething with E ravaged, bebomber-jacketed teens ready to throw down to a manlikeMickeyFinn. There was always something a little weird about these events, and the way they saw inner city – largely black – london culture collide with the more parochial white working class culture of the south coast (for those americans amongst you, imagine a New York hip hop club teleported to deepest, darkest hicksville and you might have some idea of what I mean). Nowhere was this jarring lifestyle clash more evident than the area surrounding the DJ booth which would be prowled by MCs hailing from areas as disparate as the mean streets of Peckham all the way through to the quietest, sleepiest country village imaginable. And there is nothing weirder or more embarassing when you’re 17 than watching your nice, middle-english, softly spoken mate adopt a jamaican patois when he’s chatting on the mic and the beats are R..RR…RRRRR….RRRRRRRRRROLLLING.

But that was years ago, and it was fun for a lot of people and gave them an outlet and…

I was talking about Roger Larry

Roger Larry was never a Junglist. Roger Larry was a Gabber. I can’t be arsed to waste time on a detailed description what gabber is/was – for those without a clue, just click the link. But if you can’t be bothered, I suppose I could accurately describe it as the hardest type of dance music going in the mid nineties. The beat was like a drill, there was often screaming, the tunes were called things like ‘Fucking Hostile’ and in Germany it sometimes had far right connotations – you get the idea. People generally hated gabber and inevitably its fans were, although in a minority, slavishly loyal to the scene. You could travel the gabber party circuit country-wide and you’d literally run into the same crowd at every event – the guy with the massive hair spike erupting from his forehead, pounding his head into the speakers, or the creepy girl in the ballerina outfit pirouetting gracefully in the centre of the dancefloor…..or Roger Larry. Inspite of the fact that Roger Larry went on to develop a taste for Dido, in his teens he was as Gabber as they come, and that meant wherever he went he’d be carrying his walkman, his massive headphones and a selection of Lenny Dee mix tapes. Needless to say he despised jungle and, when the coast was clear, he utilised every opportunity to snatch the latest Dreamscape mix out of the stereo and replace it with his vicious, unrelenting noise.

So it was fairly strange that he should follow our mutual friend Little Toby down to the pier as often as he did.

Until you understand exactly what he was doing in that writhing throng of emaciated tweens.

Roger would stand in the middle of the crowd, headphones rammed down over his ears, dancing to his own drum. THE GABBER DRUM. No, it didn’t matter that the music pounding out of the speakers was loud enough to collapse your rib-cage, or that, you know, he looked pretty weird, all that mattered was that, as long as Lenny was along for the ride, any environment could be transformed into gabber heaven. And what a opportunity to proselytize! Whenever some confused pill-head would enquire of him, ‘just what the fuck are you doing, mate?’, Roger Larry would gently lower his headphones onto the questioner’s head and whack the volume up to full blast. I’m sure this was a fairly upsetting experience for many people, but what did it matter? If you force it to, a jungle rave can be its gabber opposite. It’s not what it wants to be that’s important but just how loud and inventive the author’s voice/stereo is.

Which brings me breathlessly back to David Lapham and Young Liars 5.

Dave clearly doesn’t give a fuck for Oakenfold and he’s nabbed Roger Larry’s walkman for a few hours, firmly lodged in his own little temporary autonomous zone and bellowing a rock ‘n’ roll ‘La La La! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!’ into the ibizan night. The actual sound of San Antonio is conspicuously absent from this month’s track list and, although understandable given his selections so far, it does feel a mite bit weird and incongruous. Guitars do not feature prominently in the Ibizan club scene and surely there were some other options apart from Thurston Moore and Frank Black? There’s enough punky dance crossover these days to ensure that an audial sea-change wouldn’t be too jarring. Crystal Castles? Heck, even early Peaches.

Have a listen:

[youtube=http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ur1dzzyKMwQ]

But then I suppose he would have had to justify the tunes in all those pesky other ways. How, apart from the atmosphere they conjure, they fit with the story he’s trying to tell – what they say about it, etc. All that stuff. No, to be honest I like that Lapham’s pulling a Larry – it’s bold and two-fingered – and by golly the songs he’s picked work so, so well with the issue and the events therein.

And how fucking great are the Pixies and the Youth, anyway?

Very fucking great.

[youtube=http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=TX2_wZc-MU4]

(Sorry for squashing you, Kim and Frank)

So issue 5 opens with Danny splayed out on an armchair (later he will move onto a bed and cheap wine), snivelling like a grizzly 4 year old because, while he slept, Sadie up and left their hotel room in search of a party, a few fights and something more (?), with a deeply pissed off Runco trying to motivate him to get up and find her because she’s tasty in a tussle and they’ll need her for the heist they’re going to pull. Yes, it seems ‘retrieving’ the painting – which it now turns out is adorning the wall of a rich man’s medieval fortress – might be more complicated than previously assumed (although, come on, it was fairly self-evident that Runco was full of shit on that score anyway). And the whole thing swoops in on the skeletal flappers of the Pixies’ excellent Bone Machine.

Now Bone Machine isn’t my favourite tune on the album – that would have to be Number 13 Baby – but Dolittle contains absolutely no filler as far as I’m concerned, so it’s pretty awesome nonetheless. And, just in case you didn’t hear me the first time, for this issue it’s very apt indeed. First of all the lyrics:

‘And you’re going to the beach all day
You’re so pretty when you’re unfaithful to me
You’re so pretty when you’re unfaithful to me’

Who could that be referring to, I wonder.

Danny’s having conniptions because he’s convinced Sadie, after coming on to the entire beach upoun their arrival, must be out there experiencing some hardcore mediterranean willy, something which drives him wild with rage and sorrow on the one hand, but, masochist that he is, after spending so many years lusting after her from the sidelines, must also contain a powerful sexual charge for him too. It’s never explicitly stated in the text but it’s there in Bone Machine’s lyrics and the masturbatory way he replays the fear again and again to himself, cherishing it, savouring it – forever flagellating himself for his Doc Frankenstein like hold over *his creation* (oh, yeah, it turns out Danny definitely did shoot Sadie to cover up a murder she commited) but never prepared to leave his self pity on the shelf and go out and find his mentally ill friend.

To Danny, Sadie is, literally, a bone machine. Since they started fucking, she’s been reduced, in his torrid imagination, to little more than a sexbot. Danny assumes her repititious, slightly queasy making, obsession with dancing and endless rounds of action and violence must extend to sex. It’s an obvious – and logical – conclusion to arrive at, ‘But’, the reader can’t help musing, ‘perhaps it shouldn’t be Danny’s primary concern’ – her health and safety must take precendence, surely? Oh, well, I guess it’s easy to see why, in the Young Liar’s collective unconsious, her selfhood’s been relegated to the status of a wind-up toy, but from an outsider’s POV it’s still fairly unpleasant.

Bone Machine may also, rather cruelly, nod to Annie X and her wiry, eating disordered frame, but there’s another couple of grisly possibilities….

Because Danny and the rest aren’t alone on the island.

Midgets are, in this sorry world, often shorthand for all things humourous and other, and Pinkerton Maxim is no exception. In his case, though, there’s a caveat. He makes skeletons of people. Think Yoda dressed in a matador’s outfit (hey! it’s Spain!) turned to evil and you’ve got it right there. The guy is a veritable leaping, whirling, knife and teeth laden mini vortex of destruction. And this week he’s fully loaded with AA batteries and ready to destroy. So, after a quick phonecall from Annie X who’s been informed by Runco of the reward for finding Sadie, that’s exactly what he does.

To Danny’s bone machine.

Oh yes, the disgusting riffs on the title just keep on coming and finally resolve themselves in this one last dreadful iteration. Danny’s cock, severed, broken – engine kaput – while he lies bleeding out on the crimescene of his latest tool for mental self harm, the bed upoun which he and Ceecee, until they were so brutally interrupted, have been fucking. With the annhilation of Mr Johnson, We get the feeling that Danny’s need to be punished has at last been well and truly fulfilled. Perhaps now that he’s been physically emasculated, he can put aside all the emotional emasculation he’s been lovingly subjecting himself to and get on with being a grown up. Yep, there’s always a silver lining.

One covered in blood, detumescing on the floor.

But on the other hand, he could just remain the arsehole we know and love – time will tell. The great thing about David Lapham is you can never be sure his characters will *learn* or *grow* as a result of their experiences. Young Liars isn’t Ricky Lake, and for those who are paying attention it’s telling that Danny’s narration, which is retrospective, is firm on the point that it’s the Ceecee fucking that’s the really bad thing, not his perceived punishment, and I think Dave might be indicating that, even years after the event (or whatever time zone the narrator’s voice is emanating from), Danny’s still the same guilt ridden teenager he’s always been. Always setting up his moral digressions as the most important thing in the room – always allowing his need to be spanked to eclipse everything else, even when there are really bad things happening to the other people around him.

Or maybe he just feels genuinely bad because fucking your ostensible girlfriend’s best pal when she’s out plane surfing (which at the time of fucking and bone machine severing Sadie actually is) is always a shit idea.

Who can tell?

SHAKING HELL!

Hooray! It’s Sonic Youth! At night!

Picture quality aside, I think the obvious sex/death connotations of both songs should be ringing out. Thurston Moore’s mantric refrain of ‘Shake off your flesh, shake off your flesh…’ clearly intimates not just a kind of saucy soul intimacy, but also, well, the suggestion that you leave your skin at the badroom door. Or on the floor. Or wherever else Senior Maxim feels is appropriate. The song captures the two polarities that seethe away behind the scenes of the comic: the everpresent threat of violence and the sexy, sexy rock music, screwing and adventure – the (wannabe) rock star’s royal road of self destruction. Trust me, I know a few of these guys, and I wouldn’t want to be any of them. Sure, it’s thrilling to peruse the hyperreal exploits of the band from a distance – at parties on the odd lost Saturday night and in comics – but the suicidal impulse that drives our modern day dionyses from one gargantuan line of coke to the next is, in the long run, fucking awful and rubbish. I think this is something Lapham understands, and, like so many of us, even though he’s infatuated enough with the myth to want to keep perpetuating it, he’s acutely aware of the dreadful spaces people arrive at when they get locked inside the glamour/story. Young Liars increasingly feels like a catalogue of painful, druggy regret (could Mr. Lapham identify with Danny more than we know?) – the retrospective overview of a guy who’s settled down with a family, but can’t help turning his wilder days over in his mind, trying to figure out if they were brilliant, or if they’re just a cautionary tale for pill popping 16 year olds obsessed with Joy Division. You can almost hear him chuckling knowingly to himself as he writes the script, shaking his head, wiping his brow with relief, because thank fuck those days are gone. Young Liars is undoubtedly a metaphor for the less obviously hair-raising but nevertheless deeply debauched lifestyles of mid twenties to mid thirty somethings the western world over and I think this is articulated most clearly in the songs Lapham’s chosen, like Shaking Hell, that privilege aural abandon over lyrical content or melody. These aural missives remind us that the conditions the book’s describing are, inspite of the exagerated content, just the poetic, widescreen equivalent of the music scene’s nihilistic reality. Dancing, chatting bullshit, snorting, dropping until………….

Sorry, it all got a bit personal there, but I think one of the strengths of the comic is its in depth understanding of just how shitty and crazy the flight from the day to day can be. Just so you know, Dave, when I’m feeling awful after a hard night out, I take a lot of perverse solace from your comic. And more than my fair share of laughs too.

As is usual with Young Liars the tunes on the stereo have that edgy, jumpy vibe. Frank Black’s vocal is as squeaky and prey-like as ever. Moore’s breathless, frightened whispering and the guitar’s discordant whines, natch. The music, for all it goodtimeyness, never lets us forget that at the heart of a good rock and roll myth lies trouble and our gang are in trouble deep. It might sound like a good groove to begin with, but just around the corner screaming soul-bedlam lies waiting.

Now, I seriously hope tonight’s revelry doesn’t wind up with me sharing the same expression as Donny, Sadie’s new friend and Ceecee in the wake of the vertically challenged Maxim’s onslaught, but you always think you look good until you see the facebook photographs.

Rock on, you pricks.



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One Response to “Collected irriSHUT IT!: Ongoing musical overview of Young Liars”

  1. Mindless Ones » Blog Archive » The Beast reviews some stuff from 14/05 Says:

    [...] always a good day when an issue of Young Liars comes out. Not much to say that hasn’t been said, but suffice to say there’s still nothing out there like it. It’s a comic where [...]

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