Hey there! The Tim + Alex Patreon has been closed for a month now, and we’ve got a few things we owe. Because shutting down a Patreon page means you can’t post on it any more, we’ll be putting them up here, starting with one last month of recommendations. These are June’s picks, kind of. Honestly, it’s been A Whole Time.
“About Work The Dancefloor” – Georgia [SONG]
Alex: For all that I love pop music, in all its get-everyone-on-the-dancefloor glory, a lot of my favourite songs and artists can be categorised as not-quite-pop. Huge bangers that are destined never to touch the Top 40 – like this one by Georgia, an artist I know literally nothing about, and a song for which I have no further context.
It’s kind of sad, and honestly I’d love to see “About Work the Dancefloor” get a “Truth Hurts”-style revival down the line, but even more honestly, I do like how it accentuates this doomed quality the song has. I’m such a sucker for its echoey, haunted-sounding synths – like they’re playing out to a dancefloor with no one on it.
I’ve used the ‘artifact from another universe’ line about pop songs before, but between the enigmatic nonsense grammar of the chorus, and the fact that its title is suffixed with “– Edit” (no unedited version of the song seems to exist, at least on Spotify), I can’t escape the feeling that this is something that ended up here via a torrent client which accidentally made contact with another, better world.
Sunset Overdrive [GAME]
Tim: Video gaming is a rich, complex medium, combining traditional and emergent story-telling into a deeply immersive experience that can deliver nuanced emotional moments. But sometimes you just want to blow things up in cool ways, and that’s where Sunset Overdrive comes in.
Set in an energy drink-fuelled post-apocalypse, it blends together Jet Set Radio with the skyhook parts of Bioshock Infinite to create a constantly moving third-person shooter. The plot is utter nonsense, but both the game and the world run on the Rule of Cool. You’re rewarded for taking out foes in the most stylish way, and your arsenal ranges from a weaponised rack of vinyl records you fire at enemies, Shaun of the Dead-style, to explosive-stuffed teddy bears that cause, naturally, teddy bear-shaped explosions. It is exactly what you’re looking for if you want to switch your brain off for 45 minutes and engage in some extremely cathartic destruction.
“jail for mother” [TWEET]
Slate recently put out a list of the 25 Most Important Characters of the Past 25 Years. Like a restaurant specialising in sliders, I have a lot of minor beefs with it, but let’s focus on one in particular: the inclusion of Milkshake Duck. I’m fascinated by the notion of putting someone who has appeared in a single tweet alongside the greats of serialised storytelling, but not I’m not convinced Milkshake Duck really constitutes a character. As a replacement pick, I submit for your consideration: Miette.
Miette is a cat (this is not explicitly stated anywhere in the work itself, and only clarified in a follow-up tweet but it’s self-evident without further context, a testament to the economy of writing here) who is…. am I really going to synopsise an entire tweet, at a length well over 140 characters? (or, more accurately in this case, 280 – this tweet is the single best argument I’ve seen for the extended length.) Apparently so.
Miette is so outraged by her mother ‘lightly touching’ her with the side of her foot (it’s worth considering that Miette’s story is being told by another, a story which paints her as the villain, but is it ever really that simple?) that she is moved to speak aloud, in third-person and with heavy application of exclamation marks, about the injustice. As the owner of a similarly prissy dog, this is incredibly relatable, and Miette’s catchphrases have quickly entered the Spencer-Dale lexicon. But it’s the precision which really impresses – the slightly broken English of “you kick her body like the football?”, her mother’s complete lack of punctuation setting the stage for Miette’s high drama, and likewise the fact that the tweet is written entirely in lower caps (with one exception) until the punchline: “jail for mother for One Thousand Years!!!!”.
Ahem. As I was saying. Economy of writing is very important.
“Summer Girl” – Haim [SONG]
Tim: When Haim released their first records, the natural point of comparison was Fleetwood Mac. Their soft pop rock sound and Californian breeziness meant that the band occasionally seemed like the Stepford Cuckoos to Stevie Nicks’ White Queen (an analogy that may just be Peak Tim). The band has always played down this connection, pointing toward more diverse and contemporary inspirations, and as time has passed, those other influences have come to the fore.
That’s very true on “Summer Girl”, their latest release. The drums have a jazz rhythm and a feather-light touch, the bass line feels like something from a De La Soul track, and Danielle’s vocals, especially during the first chorus, remind me of the mid-’90s crop of alternative female singer-songwriters. These disparate elements blend together perfectly into a track that evokes Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” and, as one would hope with a name like this, conjures up lazy afternoons and cloud-free skies.
Fog of Love [BOARD GAME]
‘Romcom in a box’ is a very intriguing proposition for a board game.
Fog of Love is a game for two players, putting you across the table from someone playing your love interest. You’re each dealt a hand of traits, and together, the two of you go through all the usual highs and lows of a romantic comedy arc.
The way this actually works involves a lot of stat-balancing, as you tip six sets of emotional scales one way or the other. So if you’re playing as a shy character, your decisions will likely push the Extroversion meter one way, while your more assertive pulls it back in the other. Neither direction is inherently better or worse, but the game’s outcome depends on where you end up.
This is a slightly odd mechanic – it seems to invite players to approach this as a min/max game, but lacks any complexity that would make that interesting. But interpersonal relationships are a hard thing to simulate with cardboard and some (incredibly handsome) components, and I appreciate seeing someone try.
I’ve been playing it with my actual love interest, the incomparable Imogen Spencer-Dale, and our solution has been to treat Fog of Love as a kind of soft RPG. Each scenario is a prompt for the ongoing conversation, and the outcome is only important as part of whatever story we end up telling each other. It’s kind of DIY couples’ therapy, and I’d be fascinated to know what the game is like in other peoples’ hands.
Saturday Night Fever [FILM]
Tim: It’s easy to come to Saturday Night Fever with preconceptions. It’s a film that has so thoroughly assimilated into popular culture that, over the years, you’ve likely seen it parodied and referenced in dozens of other places. It has a number of immediately iconic moments, starting with the opening sequence of the film, which follows John Travolta’s Tony Manero as he confidently walks through the streets of Brooklyn, carrying a paint can. But all the jokes, homages and filtered-down photocopies of the film can’t compare to the actual thing.
The real Saturday Night Fever is a complex and often bleak drama about young people trying to escape a life that they know will chew them up and spit them out. It’s about someone who takes refuge in the one thing he’s good at, but knows it’s not enough to escape the gravity of his surroundings. It’s about the power music has to lift you up, and the power life has to send you crashing back down. Plus, John Travolta is a fucking great dancer.
If you’ve never sat down to watch the full (R-rated) film, I can’t recommend it enough.
[Look, this is a film from 1977, you can’t expect me to tell you where to watch it. Buy a DVD or whatever.]