Sunday, 31 October 2010

Come On Over (Turn Me On)

The shuffle function built into most mp3 players is certainly a plus point for most. It may well irk the purists, and I can see why people would be resistant to the idea of splitting up albums into their constituent parts, but not enough is made of the serendipitous aspect of having your record collection available on random. From time to time, a track will pop up that you’d never have consciously chosen, but it seems to arrive at the right time and remind you of what a fantastic song it is.

This has happened to me twice today. Firstly it was Confetti by The Lemonheads: a wonderful slice of bittersweet power pop that led me to listening to its parent album, It’s a Shame About Ray, in its entirety only fifteen minutes later. The other was from Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan’s Sunday at Devil Dirt record: Come On Over (Turn Me On).

Often I’m a complete sucker for any song where the lyrics are completely at odds with the tone conveyed by the music. I’m a huge fan of both Belle & Sebastian and Tindersticks, two bands who specialise in beautiful tracks that have something sinister lurking beneath the core. However, Come On Over (Turn Me On) is a perfect example of when the tone of the music and the theme of the lyrics complement each other expertly.

The concept is simple; over the bassline from Nina Simone’s Feeling Good, a tale of sexual frustration is told where the protagonist is impatiently waiting for the object of their affections. Both Lanegan and Campbell sing the entire track together, so Lanegan’s yearning is conveyed through a menacing, throaty, rumbling growl, while Campbell is seemingly so overcome with desire, her voice is a barely-there, gossamer-thin whisper.

Crucially, the whole thing is incredibly sexy. Starting off brooding and slow, it slinks from line to line, with each chorus more powerful than the last. It teases too; some of the verses appear to be building up to some kind of payoff, before returning to the start of a new verse at the last possible moment. “How should I know what is right from wrong? Come on over, turn me on” they purr, as strings build, drums crash and just as you feel they’re about to let loose, we’re back where we started.

The strings are reminiscent of a James Bond theme that doesn’t actually exist, and as the song progresses, the drum fills become more robust, cymbal crashes more frequent and the guitar solos are less measured and more freeform. Just as it seems the song is about to reach its apex, it’s finished with just a sustained, bending guitar chord to keep you company.

Watch the video below and see for yourself. I’ll warn you though; you may well need a cold shower afterwards.

No comments: