“You only die once” according to the intro to this single from Andreas S Jensen, Dub Pistol’s guitarist and singer’s solo debut album. I’m no Buddhist but I do do a bit of stand-up on the side and so I’m inclined to contest that.
As a cynical old hack I’m also inclined to give the swerve to the uplifting and the anthemic but the Sounds editorial team put this track into my virtual in-tray and as I aspire to be (at the very most) a destitute man’s John Peel, helping new music reach ears, then I should aspire to Peel’s ever-open ear and love of a tune from whichever angle it comes.
So let’s turn off the world-weary schtick: I enjoyed going back to this tune every time I put it on replay in the review process. Yes, it is uplifting and anthemic but it’s also built upon a jarringly existential dread in the lyrics that creeps up on you rather than batting you about the head with its message. For example “ won’t let tomorrows kill me in the night” is as good an echo of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s line in The Crack-Up – “in a real dark night of the soul it’s always three o’clock in the morning” – as you are going to find in a pop song.
The driving, hopeful bass line should also sweep up even the most cynical of us and Jensen’s voice has an honest, immediate reach and melodic punch among the rich multi-instrumental production, so that you can’t help but join in on the chorus “I can’t go out like this, I feel like a zero, now let me save your life, one last time”. It all just works on its own terms.
I’m personally not keen on Gary Barlow, for no more substantial reason than that he is a vocal Tory supporter but there’s no debate that ‘Shine’ is a formidable feel-good anthem and I’m guessing that, like Barlow, Jensen has no shame in delivering an unpretentious feel-good tune and neither should he.
Jensen is still yet another Scandinavian that reminds us that it’s not only Abba that can supply us with great Scandi pop harmonies. If, like me, you’d like to keep up with his melodic journey go to http://www.andreassjensen.com/
Listen to Only Die once here