Unpopular Advent 2018 – Day 2

Daphne and Celeste Save The World

There’s a sneaky (and admittedly tenuous) connection to First Aid Kit’s ‘Fireworks’ slipped sweetly into one of the standout tracks on ‘Daphne and Celeste Save The World’ and I’m not fully convinced it is accidental. “Silverlake is shimmerin’ and summer is a-comin’ in” sing the women who once so stoically confronted cans of piss on a Reading stage and as the tale unfolds you can’t help but wonder if there’s a mild dig at the Söderberg sisters and their ilk as they proceed to catalogue the depressing conformity of the “basic busker on the radio” even though actually you are also convinced that this is Daphne and Celeste’s equivalency of Everett’s never-Truer proclamation that ‘Ed Sheeran Is Shit’.

Perhaps what has been most hilarious/depressing about the reception to ’Save The World’ is the way in which critics have noted how it is so surprisingly good after their initial incarnation as manufactured bubblegum Pop tarts (if you are too old or young or disinterested to remember, go and listen to/watch their marvellous ‘U.G.L.Y.’ and ‘Ooh, Stick You’). The clear inference of this (actually most critics I have read are openly explicit) is that ‘Save The World’ is only actually any good because it’s largely (in their eyes) the product of A Man. No doubt Max Tundra (whose work I have always found intriguing if never just quite in my spotlight) has found such suggestions equally risible and one rather imagines that he also revelled unapologetically in the greatness of ‘We Didn’t Say That’ back at the turn of the Century (and yes, I have dredged my archives – ooh-er missus – to find Proof that I Loved Daphne and Celeste before You Loved Daphne and Celeste). ‘Save The World’ then is certainly a record that belongs to Daphne and Celeste every bit as much as it does to Max Tundra and it is their (excuse the kind of pun here) daffy dumbness that appeals every bit as much as Tundra’s playful production and sonic salaciousness.

Is it a surprise then that when listening to ‘Save The World’ I am also put in mind of The Gentle People, whose ‘Soundtracks For Living’ set lit up 1997 with a sugary sweet bubblegum pink lightness? Perhaps there are threads of connectedness that float from Tundra’s Warped work of more or less the same period? Certainly there is something of that, and if we wanted to bring in more up to date connections and relevances then what about the magical TV Girl (whose ‘Death Of A Party Girl’ set this year was another sweet Pop confection and would surely have made this advent series if I had not already written about them in 2012 and in 2014). Surely there is something here of the artists making Pop about Pop in the way conceptual artists make Art about Art, where the most distinct pleasure is how Pop about Pop by its very nature celebrates the dumbness, the surface, the sheer pleasure of the moment.

Maybe this is why ‘BB’ is my favourite track on the record, being very explicitly Pop about Pop, Pop as commentary about its own meaningless importance, Pop as invaluable value judgement. Like a dog gleefully consuming its own vomit on the beach, Pop has eaten the regurgitated remains of itself many times over and still comes back for more. And this, essentially, is how Daphne and Celeste Save the World.

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