Popfilter Vs Our Childhood
In which we reminisce about childhood entertainment, then go back and watch it and re-assess.
VERUCA SALT’S EIGHT ARMS TO HOLD YOU
One of the things that makes going back and consuming something you loved as a kid such an interesting experience is the propensity for embarrassment. It’s one of those experiences only many years of consuming pop-culture can afford you. Your tastes change and broaden as they are exposed to different things, both good and bad. You learn to attribute merit differently. You go out and experience all those things that those songwriters were talking about and your barometer of talent, as well as your concepts of themes like heartbreak and morality, become imprinted with your own personal experiences. That and it’s just god-damn difficult to defend the musical sensibilities of a 13-year-old girl. Generally speaking, they tend to dig saccharine-sweet bubblegum-pop that can only survive in the hearts of fans who can’t admit how empty and shitty their music is (see: every boy band, ever). I wasn’t in that group of music fans. I represent the other side of that spectrum; I was an angsty girl. I thought teenyboppers were shrill morons who cared more about the way a “musician” looked than any discernible musical ability and I didn’t mind telling them so, at length. While this didn’t win me a lot of friends, it did give me the impression that I had a more aesthetic appreciation for music than the average tween, which is a major feather in the cap of any angry young lady. Cut to me today, when this assignment falls on my desk. I needed to pick something that I loved but hadn’t heard at all in many, many years. That way I could weigh it objectively and without interference from the changes I underwent while they were in progress. I had a smoke with my bestie and had a conversation about nothing in particular, when she casually mentions how much she loved Veruca Salt as a teenager. A band that is so deep in the recesses of my brain that it’s perfect. Back then, I believed that Eight Arms to Hold You was an example of high quality music. Once more, it meant so much to me because I felt it spoke to me. Better still, it fit my criteria of not having heard it in at least 10 years. Seriously, when was the last time you heard anyone mention Veruca Salt? Because of all this, before I actually gave it a listen, I suspected this album was utterly terrible. My opinion of myself when I was 13 is very different than my opinion of myself at 13. She wouldn’t agree, but she was very naïve, and kind of a condescending twit, with little exposure to the musical greats. So naturally, not having any faith in that kid, I prepared myself for embarrassment. My fear was that the album was going to do all the annoying things that 90’s-chick-alt-rock albums did, like turning up the distortion to compensate for the fact they can’t play guitar, lyrics about asshole men, the environment and their menstruation cycles, harpy-esque singing, and the unnecessary ballad that comes two-thirds of the way through the album. So I did listen to it, and I’m here to report that I was pretty wrong about how bad it was going to be. In fact, how bad it wasn’t kinda knocked me out. I expected a cringe-worthy listening experience, and if that did happen, it happened during the first track “Straight”. It is probably the most dated track on the album, but that’s really the worst thing I can say about it. The album, while not super fresh, is fun, with good musical progression. Bob Rock, the album’s producer, was able to provide it with level of production that was true to the spirit of what Veruca Salt was trying to do. The production value is at that magical point where it maintains its grungy edge but doesn’t sound too raw, a balancing act that was difficult for a lot of albums from that genre to pull off. The big hit off the album was a song called “Volcano Girls,” which some of you might recognize from the opening sequence of the movie Jawbreaker, and it aged pretty okay. The ballad of the album, “Loneliness is Worse,” the one I was dreading, was the most pleasantly surprising song, perhaps because I assumed it was going to be the worst. I keep reiterating that this album, rather than being timeless, is an example of the best of this particular genre. If I heard it for the first time today, it definitely wouldn’t get as much play as it did back then. However, I am really stoked my 13-year-old self found it and enjoyed it so much. I think it’s a great album for a little pissed-off chick that’s going to go on to a lifetime of loving and appreciating music.