I fell back in love with love
Every commercial album needs its big ballad moment.
I often talk about subtle growth in songs and by that I mean that the song intensifies and its sound deepens as it progresses, but it happens almost invisibly. The new elements appear slyly in the background and when you notice them it’s almost like they had always been there. It’s like a snowball rolling down a hill calmly, gaining up in speed as it gathers more snow around itself and grows larger.
This is precisely what Golden Platitudes fuels itself with. It starts out as a quiet, contemplative and very no-frills moment and the switch to its chorus is almost nonexistent – it simply tilts its direction to another way without bothering to tell the listener. And all of a sudden you’ve realised that the song’s cranked up on the intensity – James’ singing carries more weight, all of a sudden there’s choir backing him, the rhythm’s got more lively… almost unnoticably on a conscious level.
It’s a bit of a slowburner but eventually Platitudes classifies itself as an important, integral part of Postcards. It’s the counterpoint to all the big rockers – the torchsong amidst the guitar walls. It’s musically beautiful in its understated yet strong nature, the choir does a great job, the lyrics are good and show that Wire’s got some of his old muse back and while a bit clichéd, the final la-la-la coda sounds bloody good and closes the song off excellently. But the strongest element comes from James: for the past few albums Bradders has believed in the power of loud and while his rrrrock roaring sounds great most of the time, his best vocal moments tend to come from the times when he doesn’t emphasise the scale of his skills and instead simply sings with grace. Which is precisely what he does on Platitudes and it really hits the song’s mood to a T.
Annoyingly it’s not a perfect homerun and shelters a few minor annoyances. The clunkiness of “where did the feeling go / where did it all go wrong” really grinds against the success of the rest of the lyrics, and on the musical side you have the completely pointless light rock moments that appear after the choruses and at the end of the songs. Dynamics are good and all, but Platitudes really doesn’t need the sections and they only hindrance the fantastically crafted build of the rest of the song. Fortunately neither element is too big in the large scheme of things but they always stop and say hi while the song goes on.
Otherwise though, Platitudes proves itself to be one of the songs that reward coming back to the album the most.