𝗣𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗺’𝘀 𝗣𝗼𝗹𝘆𝗴𝗼𝗻 - this week: Europe in the Summertime - Charles Connolly
Welcome all to 𝗣𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗺’𝘀 𝗣𝗼𝗹𝘆𝗴𝗼𝗻, the multi-faceted feature where Pancham_b reviews our usual reviewer’s own music releases. Here, Pancham delves into Charles’ latest single, featured on the 𝙉𝙚𝙬 𝘼𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙨𝙩 𝙎𝙥𝙤𝙩𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 playlists.
𝙀𝙪𝙧𝙤𝙥𝙚 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙎𝙪𝙢𝙢𝙚𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙚 - 𝘾𝙝𝙖𝙧𝙡𝙚𝙨 𝘾𝙤𝙣𝙣𝙤𝙡𝙡𝙮
Charles Connolly emerges from behind the curtain, wearing a fedora the colour of his soul, a megaphone in one hand, and a drumstick whittled into the shape of an emaciated femur in the other. He puts the megaphone down after yelling “Jet” into the void, and plays a one-handed Toccata and Fugue on a calliope, while marking time on an old tin can of Campbell’s Soup with his femur drumstick. He wears clothes the colour of falling evening, and the music is glorious, and otherworldly.
Listening to the introductory bars of Charles’ new single ‘Europe in the Summertime’, I think, for a brief brilliant second, that it is opening with a calliope. An elegant Black Plague waltz. This could only mean that Charles has finally taken up his pre-destined role as carny barker and bone machine musician, singing not to the faceless tasteless crowds, but to the many many faces of the dark, some with teeth and some without. It is, instead, an accordion, but it is still quite lovely, evoking a war-torn Vienna and Matt Elliott’s beautiful ode to drowning to death. The song bursts into life at the twentieth second. A small fading part of my soul wishes that it had instead tumbled deep into a well, where if you fall deep enough, and you fall some more, and then you keep falling, eventually you will see the universe, replete with exploding supernovae, reflected in the brackish water. But this feeling is short-lived, as the the rest of the song kicks into gear, and as with all of Charles Connolly’s music, this has the appearance of what the kids these days call a ‘banger’, but as with all of Charles Connolly’s music, there is always something deeper to discover if one delves deep enough. On a first listen, to me, the song evokes loneliness, spiritually empty fun, Brexit, and the deep-rooted modern incapacity to be alone, thereby seeking to experience fun almost aggressively once these pandemic restrictions have been leavened. It could also, theoretically, be a vacuous pop track, danced to and forgotten after a couple of cocktails, but this is Charles, a masterly subtle craftsman and I would argue, a great obfuscator of meaning and as I get more and more inebriated while listening to this tune, the layers do become somewhat more apparent.
Charles, in his own liner notes to this tune, mentions names of similar artists. I am aware they are famous rich music people, but I have heard a total of 2 songs by all of them combined, so I doubt I am in a position to state if this comparison is relevant. However, I have heard some contemporary pop, and while the catchiness is undeniable, after a couple of listens, most pop songs tend to evoke rats scratching away at the outer-walls of one’s only shelter at the tail-end of the first great zombie holocaust, in short, a bit annoying. And on occasion when I have tried to dig a little deeper, the number of layers these songs throw up have been surprisingly limited. This is where Charles is different. He writes catchy songs because he can, but he also writes nuanced songs, because that is the kind of music he makes. Who is the protagonist of this song? If I didn’t know better I would say he’s Thom Yorke’s ‘Fitter Happier’ man, exercising regularly three times a week and eating healthy, and also heading to Europe the moment he can. Because fun must be had, at all cost, a smirking supplication for those left behind, and let the festivities begin. But is he having fun, our hero? He is tired and hungover, and there is an acknowledgment that once he is in this situation, there is no extricating himself till all the merriment has been experienced. At least he brought the girl.
It might just be me, but there is a resignation in the opening verse, at the prospect of walking from one prison to the other, perhaps. Stuck in the tedium of a workday, stuck in the tedium of endless fun. Charles sings from far away, a saudade in his voice that the lyrics can only hint at. “Turn up the sun”, and the rhythm picks, it should escalate now, and it does, into the chorus. It’s giddy amounts of fun, and the instructions manual for having fun in the summer are surprisingly succinct, “Grab bag, fly, land, sun, sea, hot sand”. The existential crisis is implied. Charles asks you to take a seat in paradise, and if you close your eyes you can get lost in this. The bass is just beautiful, and the lights are bright and neon when you step into the club and this track is playing, and just briefly, as the evening’s indulgences begin to kick in, everything seems alright with the world. My favourite line in the song comes near the end though, “You want to believe in the sunshine”. You want to, but somehow you can’t. You still want to go to Europe in the Summertime, and you want to dance to this song over and over, till you fall down exhausted onto a beach chair and contemplate your life-choices, or you can knock back a few more drinks and forget about it till the next morning, because this song will let you do just that. Charles Connolly writes catchy layered songs with an impeccable sense of melody, and immensely good production, and none of that has changed with this latest release. His talent for song-craft is on full display, and this is probably the catchiest tune he has ever released. As for the femur-wielding dark-mirror reflecting strange-hatted Charles, fully giving into the freedom and the strangeness that linger long after the final club lights have been switched off, we will have to wait…
Listen to 𝙀𝙪𝙧𝙤𝙥𝙚 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙎𝙪𝙢𝙢𝙚𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙚 on the 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿 Spotify playlist HERE!
Listen to 𝙀𝙪𝙧𝙤𝙥𝙚 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙎𝙪𝙢𝙢𝙚𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙚 on the 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗹𝘆’𝘀 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗿 Apple Music playlist HERE!
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