Get To You
About six or seven years ago I hypothesised that the resurgence in psychedelic music could be a subliminal reaction to the anomie and spiritual dysfunction of contemporary society: with religious instruction as fashionable as Roger Moore’s high-waisted flares in Moonraker, psychedelia offered a surrogate secular spiritual experience to counter the suffocating fiscal expectations and narcissistic obsessions of the modern world.
Sadly, the theory held as much credibility as a Kiss farewell tour: the revival in psychedelic music was cyclical and nothing more. In that context the notional popular resurgence in soul music – think Sasquatch and The Bamboos as headline, if not completely representative, samples – is no more symbolic. But the temptation remains to explore the broader sociological meaning, if only for the perversity and self-indulgence of it all. The proposition has a superficially appealing simplicity: the Western democratic political climate is beset by suspicion, anger, jingoism and xenophobia; with its contemporary popular roots in the civil rights movement of yore, soul music is the antithesis of such narrow-minded opinions.
And into that mix comes The Night Party. The Night Party is a two-piece, though you wouldn’t necessary discern that from a cursory listen to the duo’s debut record, Get to You. The Night Party is soul stripped back to its bare essentials: it’s devoid of flourishes, elaborate woodwind and brass augmentation or crystal-threatening vocals.
What you do get on Get to You is broadly two categories of songs: the first are the slow, cheek-to-cheek, high-school-dance-smooching soul. ?Love in Train? isn’t completely the Stones-meets-Clash crosspollination you might expect from the title, but it is soft, warm and sloppy affection. ?On Every Street? is sparkling adolescent love with Ben E King gazing in the background; ?Such a Fool? has almost everything Sam and Dave gave the world, save the tragedy. ?Light of Day? is elegant to the ear, and everywhere else; ?How It Ends? is the idyllic end to the mesmerising romantic night before.
The second category are the grime-infested journeys into soul’s dirty garage annex. There’s ?One Last Say?, Bo Diddley-via-Stones with a Berry Gordon inflection. ?Get to You? has an edge, a provocative sneer above a welcoming smile and a sense that behind the facade of hope lies the resilient attitude of experience. ?Look Out!? is dirty: there’s a whiff of Iggy & The Stooges? ?Penetrate? mixed with the surf blues of Mother & Son. Cut to ?Tetsui Snake? and it’s hip-shaking rockabilly soul. Wait a bit longer and ?Black is the Night? is laced with subtext and clad in stovepipe cool. ?Snake Bite? is The Dirtbombs with a judicious amphetamine rush; hold your nerve, and there’s free-wheeling juvenile happiness in ?Walk the Streets?.
Maybe the deeper meaning – if it’s necessary to look for one – of Get to You is that less is more. And yet there’s a lot going on here, from whichever angle you want to look.