I like to listen in to the lyrics. I always have. I really irritated my Dad some twenty years ago when I snapped his Rumours tape, after rewinding the B-Side to play 'Go Your Own Way' again and again and again, all the way to Grandma’s house, every weekend, until one day the tape just gave up. Sorry Dad.

Some people don’t listen to the words and go with the drums or the guitars or some other element of production. I have equal respect for people like that, but I am proud to say that I can perform Bat Out of Hell at karaoke without the autocue.

My inaugural column for The 405 is a look back at my favourite lyrics of 2011. It was very tough to narrow down, but I’ve settled on five tracks, all with masterful concept.




Fucked Up – 'Turn the Season'

It's been a marvelous year for Fucked Up. Their third album David Comes to Life has graced many a publication’s "Album of 2011" list, whilst their world tour culminated in supporting Foo Fighters in Australia, and their homecoming gigs sold out in minutes. Not bad for a little Toronto punk band. Underneath Damian "Pink Eye" Abraham's screeching frenzied punk vocals are sagacious and emotional lyrics. 'Turn the Season's' sentiment is clear - life is full of ups and downs, heart swells and heart aches - the seasons will keep on changing. It’s not sympathetic but matter of fact; these problems are ultimately small in the grand scheme. Something we all need reminding of from time to time.

  • "We couldn't see without the dark,
  • wouldn't end without a spark.
  • Is no truth without lies
  • And no future without memories.
  • He's in the middle of the road,
  • From where he's been and where he'll go.
  • He's the forest kissed by flames,
  • The trees die so they can grow again."





Thurston Moore – 'Orchard Street'

If you were expecting a divorcee’s swan song think again. His break from wife and Sonic Youth band mate Kim Gordon might have broken many a fan’s heart but this year’s hazy folk bliss out Demolished Thoughts, helped to heal that pain. Produced by Beck Hansen (no surprises that it sounds a lil bit like Sea Change then) Thurston Moore’s second full length solo outing is rife with awesome gut wrenching lyrics, reminding us that he is the best poet to come out of the punk scene since his hero Patti Smith. The track 'Orchard Street' recants youthful times he spent in downtown Manhattan on arriving in New York City in the late 70s. We hear a Moore full of adolescent hope, lust and spirit that has certainly not dissipated over the years. I just love the image of his "grape stained escape."

  • "Wet and drunken desire, dripping tears
  • Grape stained escape, an immortal kiss
  • Free jazz hotel, sweet now girl whispers"
  • "Crazy crazy crazy night sky orange
  • Promise and deceit, blindfolds and prayer
  • Orchard Street is anchored in divinity's shadow"




Mafia Lights – 'West'

If releasing an EP on VHS and getting arrested for making music videos whilst scaling a famous London landmark wasn’t enough to catch your attention, stellar lyrics from Mafia Light’s frontman Joel Amey should be. Their single 'West' blew me away at this year’s Binnacle Festival, standing out in a line up packed with hot new talent. Produced by the awesome Disclosure, this single is a heart on sleeve apology for hedonism. A confession revealing that this will inevitably happen again and again; forgetting to take care of yourself when you’re that far gone in love. It’s plain beautiful. Here’s the opening verse:

  • "My new cassette is on
  • My fingers are red raw
  • My safety belts undone
  • My phone is lying on the floor
  • I smoke more than I eat
  • I dance more than I sleep
  • I collide with everyone
  • Before we even meet."




Peaking Lights – 'Hey Sparrow'

Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis make up the dub electro punk partnership Peaking Lights. They are, as you may tell from that phrase, pretty hard to define. Their wonderful debut album 936 was finally released in the UK in the autumn, bewildering many a critic. Is it synthy jazz? Is it hardcore dub? Seeing them live didn’t help the confusion. While everyone else was busy trying to suss the pair out, I was listening to Indra’s Nico-esque vocals that weave a lullaby over the waves of bass. The lyrics to 'Hey Sparrow' are sweet and elemental, like their sound. It doesn’t need long words and allegorical terms to make its point: I love you for who you are. Simple.

  • "Hey Sparrow do you think just because you’re nothing special
  • That doesn’t mean that I like you any less
  • You fly around - no one sees
  • Cos you’re too common
  • But cool to me"




Alt-J – 'Tessellate'

Sometimes a song grabs your heart. Love at first listen. Enter 'Tessellate'. Released by Loud & Quiet Magazine earlier in the year and recently signed to an undisclosed large label, if Alt-J (or ∆ ) aren’t absolutely huge in 2012 then I will eat my hat: my fur hat. Trying to articulate the act of sex making in a song is pretty difficult, as it’s so easy to sound like a wuss or a perve. Frontman Joe Newman has majestically avoided both of these pitfalls. Sumptuous semiotics of biting, swimming and thumping matched with a genius analogy of shapes tessellating presents us with alluring lyrics that would seduce the most metallic of iron maidens.

  • "Bite chunks out of me 
  • You're a shark and I'm swimming
  • My heart still thumps as I bleed
  • And all your friends come sniffing"
  • "Triangles are my favourite shape
  • Three points where two lines meet
  • Toe to toe back to back lets go
  • My love it's very late, till morning comes 
  • Let's tessellate."