Sunday, August 07, 2005

"Madame Helga"

There's something unashamedly indulgent about a song that stands four-square in the box marked "testosterone", that wears its colours on its sleeve and doesn't feel the need to apologise for being a serious boys-only song. Think of the Faces' "Stay With Me" or Paul Kelly's "Darling It Hurts" and you get the picture. This is the Stereophonics jumping feet-first into the deep end of the pool and pulling every single axe-hero pose, every fist-pumping chord-change out of the box of tricks. It's a wonderful, swirling, lazy, vaguely menacing slab of sound. Kelly Jones must have applied the extra-coarse sandpaper to his vocal chords for this: his voice is Rod Stewart on steroids, raw, tearing at the edges, reaching for that last scrap of power to push the song over the edge. The song's about a mysterious woman the band met in Sri Lanka; but they've painted a whole slightly acid- or alcohol-fuelled fantasy around her: there's the waking up in an unfamiliar place, the strange faces passing by in a blur of overindulgence, the desperately unsettled feeling of being someplace where you don't feel one hundred percent safe. The song pushes on, gathering momentum as the dream blows hot and cold, the chorus suggests the sort of out-of-body experience we've all had when we find our limits, and by the end you're slightly sweaty, wondering if you'll ever get home to see your local pub again.

1 comment:

Cocaine Jesus said...

rod stewart on steroids. hey hey hey. i like it.