Indie Music

Oliver Beardmore – With The Heavens On Your Side (You)

Oliver Beardmore

In A Year With Swollen Appendices, Brian Eno writes that whatever is ugly and unlovely about a new medium will be cherished the second it becomes avoidable. Anyone who has flicked through the vinyl bins in Oxfam looking for 45s of forgotten 60s garage bands knows this to be true. Of course, I could just listen to The Daughters of Eve on Spotify, but to do so would be almost to miss the point. Here are bands that vanished from history after two EPs and a cover of Under the Boardwalk. To own a piece of their small legacy stamped into black plastic is to honour their memory.

That Oliver Beardmore intuitively understands the fragility and ephemerality of garage rock is evident in his new single, With the Heavens on Your Side (You) – a song that sounds like a 3am drive to McDonalds to reconcile with your one true love, body aching with a nausea that’s either a hangover or motion sickness. Under the song’s lush dreampop production lies a true-blue slowdance that weaves and tiptoes around Beardmore’s voice. And when the guitar solo – itself a self-conscious throwback – announces itself in a howl of adolescent grief, it’s enough to make you weep into your McFlurry.

Yet, as in all melodrama, there’s enough low-key ironic context here to offset the big emotional bombast. For Beardmore, the heavens may be on your side, but – as the next lyric reminds us – you’re also ‘stuck on double-yellow lines.’ This unsentimental approach continues through the verses with the narrative protesting ‘I never said you don’t look pretty,’ before begrudgingly admitting ‘I guess it’s lonely when you leave.’ Everyone from John Cooper Clark to Carol Ann Duffy has at one point attempted a version of this kind of anti-love song*, but it is weirdly compelling to hear it play out against quite such grand instrumentation. It may seem trite that the song closes out with the line ‘how could I not love you now?’ but it’s a denouement that fits the song’s aesthetic perfectly. Garage rock was always about emotions too big for the songs that carried them. Beardmore takes his time with it, but the moment at which the music and lyrics finally align in a shower of reverb and delay is worth the wait.

 *It arguably goes back as far as the 17th Century if you count Sonnet 130.

With the Heavens on Your Side (You) is out on April 16th.

Christopher R. Moore

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