It's (not) easy being Green Gartside


Yeah, so what that Sasha Frere-Jones has praised him in the New Yorker, and the New York Times is loving him, too. There's still at least one Scritti Politti maniac on the Guardian premises, and I wanna know what he thinks about White Bread, Black Beer.


Me, I'm a garden variety admirer who fell harder for some of Scritti's other Rough Trade cousins. But I've developed a taste for the Green-on-guitar-at-home direct address of White Bread, Black Beer, which recalls everything from Queen (the opening and closing harmonies of "Snow in Sun") to the Beach Boys (the testimony between those harmonies) to a Michael Jackson who doesn't have a tic-like urge to yell "Jam on it!" every ten seconds. The ghost of Elliott Smith is cycling up and down Alameda in Portland wishing "Road to No Regret" was in his songbook, and the "Mrs. Hughes" of Scritti Politti's latest album might have emerged from a hazy shade of Mrs. Robinson's winter. But these are all passing likenesses; ultimately, it all sounds like ever-cutting coy boy Green Gartside and no one else. Minus the quote marks around words of affection, though -- and that's a big change.

It also reminds me once again that Mr. Scritti can always be counted on to be ahead of his time, whether bringing a relatively-obscure MC named Mos Def into the lush realm of 1999's Anomie & Bonhomie, or serenading Jacques Derrida and addressing Lacanian lack in a perfect way, way before a wave of NME and Melody Maker scribes embraced theory as a way of wrestling with pop meaning (or, yes, lack of it) in the '80s. Green loves the word "Boom," and he kicks off this album with the single "The Boom Boom Bap." But I might prefer the brief icy hot glimmer and the thoughts on aging in the follow-up song, "No Fine Lines," which also exemplify his flair for, well, lines that run from each other like offshoots from a tricky river:

And there are no fine lines, or there are more
than I can draw, cut across some here and there,
between each after and before, tying everything
together, so I can't think it anymore...

What matters now though, is can you reach
the windowsill?

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