Songs stumbled upon, songs remembered, songs because why the hell not?
Sometimes an artist writes a song that epitomises their aesthetic so perfectly they could pretty much retire on the spot, content that they’ve captured everything they came to do in several perfect minutes. You probably couldn’t say that of Justin Broadrick – he’s worked under so many names and in different styles that he couldn’t hope to condense it all into one track. But he could have laid the Jesu monicker to rest the moment he recorded Silver, the perfect distillation of the strange fragile beauty and monolithic heft of the work he’s produced under that name.
I’m glad he didn’t of course – there are scores of fine tracks that stretch and distort the template in interesting ways, as well as some weird outliers like the weary indie rock of the excellent Sedatives from Ascension. But the fact remains that as good as all that is it none of it quite scales the heights of Silver.
The weight of those guitar chords – it feels like they’re having to be hauled up by some Atlas like titan and dropped again. Above that a simple little melody chimes above it, carrying a childlike innocence to it that amidst the crushing heavy around it sounds revelatory and euphoric. The song last six minutes with few major shifts and only 8 lines on the lyric sheet. But it feels so much is said by the bracing gale of guitar at the songs core, the way the melodies gradually drift to more melancholic tones as it progresses to it’s end, that nothing else is needed.
“Silver’s just another gold/when you’re bitter and you’re old,” goes the main refrain. You can’t help but get jaded with age – it’s par for the course. Whilst your tastes may have crystallised over the years you can’t quite discern good from great in the new anymore as that young, fresh enthusiasm in which you encountered the things you love has faded. It’s ironic that Broderick would pen these lyrics for the most twinklingly beautiful work of his career to date, a perfect marriage of the depths of heaviness he dredged up in his Godflesh years and a new found shimmering, ethereal beauty. Contrary to the songs theme Silver shows that not only can old dogs pick up new tricks they can also find new dimensions in the one’s they already know. There’s something about this time of year, when the autumnal air starts to drop in, that whenever I hear Silver while feeling the crisp cold on my face I can’t help but feel it’s the best song ever written. Well, maybe it’s not quite that. But sweet god damn is it good.