Single / Film Review: The Crookes – Dance in Colour

By on Wednesday, 24th April 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

Editor’s note: this is long. I had planned to just review the song. But I couldn’t leave behind the film that goes with it. Just saying! If you really can’t be bothered, scroll down to the bottom and read the last paragraph before the rating…

Update: the band have posted the lyrics under the video on YouTube, so I’ve replaced mine with Daniel Hopewell’s. This affects the review slightly and I’ve added an addendum to address this.

Another week, and another Crookes single. This time, the band branched out beyond just a promo video and actually made a short film soundtracked by the actual song, ‘Dance in Colour’, the other A-side to ‘Bear’s Blood’ that premiered last week. (You can read my review and words on that here.) I had to take a slightly different approach to reviewing this one, now that I had two mediums to examine. I’ll say it up front now that I’m not a cinema buff; I’ve never found the medium of film as exciting as music. At first I thought, okay, this could go in an entirely pretentious direction with the subtitles and not make sense in the context of the song.

However fear not; the vignette’s script was also written by Daniel Hopewell, and I promise you, everything does come together, even if it feels weird initially when you’re queueing it up and you don’t see the band at all in this. (I believe this marks the first of their promos that they don’t actually star or clown around in.) After several listens, and then turning down the sound to read the words, there’s actually a striking sync between the song and the dialogue between the two actors.

You can read the dialogue while you watch the video, so I’m not going to transcribe that for you. After posting the original review, the band helpfully posted the lyrics under the description of the YouTube video, so below is Daniel’s (If you’re curious how I heard it, scroll down to the cut, as I’ve moved my impression of it there.)


You might smoke in black and white but you should always dance in colour.
Some dream of quiet love; I favour chaos.
I want a love like no other so let’s dance in colour.
I want life to sprawl, to twist with the rise and fall of cold hands shaking, of my own heart breaking.
‘Cos there’s no worse feeling than feeling nothing at all.
I’m empty and aching and so tired of just waiting.

He walks in whispers, draws a stranger’s gaze.
Why you always sleeping? It’s the middle of the day.
And they’re nothing, no they’re nothing like us.
Why you always running from the people that you love?

I want it to burn. I want it to effervesce until the district’s glowing.
I want it to hurt, to feel it in every breath.
I don’t care where I’m going…just that I’m going.

Now I can’t hide my smiling eyes.
Why can’t you be kind and just pretend that you miss me?
I’m weak and restless, young men are.
It was always staying still that made me dizzy.

He walks in whispers, draws a stranger’s gaze.
Why you always sleeping? It’s the middle of the day.
And they’re nothing, no they’re nothing like us.
Why you always running from the people that you love?

The start of this song is just…well, sad. The way George Waite sings it, along with the echoey effects on his voice and the one guitar playing, sounds ghostly. I almost don’t want to say it but actually sounded morbid to me. “I’m empty and aching / and so tired of just waiting.” is probably one of the most evocatively melancholy lines ever written in pop. This is followed by a chorus that is really confusing me, because I can’t tell if it’s from the point of view of someone other than the main character, who I’m making male for the sake of simplicity. In the chorus, one-half of a couple is somewhere like a bar or a club and looking at strangers, catching a stranger’s eye while the other half is at home, sleeping in the middle of the day and not with his/her better half. “Why are you always running from the people that you love?”: not all is happy in this relationship, it’s on the rocks.

And this all happens in the lyrics before the tempo picks up. The film also feels cold too; the woman, who could probably play Adele in a future biopic of the ‘Chasing Pavements’ star, is disparaging towards her dining companion, complaining that all he has is matches and not a real lighter (she says “how quaint” and we can’t see her eyes, though I suspect she would be rolling them), then later accusing “that sounds familiar…like it’s been said before”, as if he’s a terrible conversationalist. The man, an English version of Luke Wilson in a suit, is trying to hold his own, trying to bring up one topic after another, but keeps getting shot down because…well, the woman just isn’t that interested.

It’s really interesting that just like in ‘Bear’s Blood’, there’s subtext beyond the topic of ‘Dance in Colour’, which admittedly sounds like it could be the title to a song by any one of my favourite electronic dance bands. It sounded like such a un-Crookes title to me when I’d first heard the name. “Black and white” is used to show things that are total opposites: good vs. bad, truth vs. lies. In the context of the song, I also read it like the simpleton’s version of how a relationship works, and I’ll give you an example from my uni days. When my friends and I were in school, my friend Jenn insisted on trying Match.com to find the love of her life. (Me? I just couldn’t be bothered. At age 21 I’d decided biology was my life, I was going to spend the rest of it in a laboratory or behind a lectern preaching to undergraduates, alone, and that was it.) The most memorable of the men she dated were an economist who drove a Buick (who I decided was entirely too boring) and an anthropologist who rode a motorbike and had curly hair. One night she was saying she really liked this economist guy because he had a stable job, and she could see starting a life with him. I argued with her, saying that job stability of the person you date was a terrible measure of who you were compatible with. (I mean, what if one day he lost his job? There goes your dating theory…)

It was also obvious that she wasn’t wild about this man either, and I knew she’d said what she’d said because as Chinese girls, we’d been brought up to be ‘good’, do well in school, become doctors or engineers and find someone, preferably Chinese (ugh), with a respectable job. Because that’s just what you ‘do’. I remember exactly what I said to her: “don’t you want to *feel* something strong? And real? I could never be with someone I didn’t feel entirely attracted to. And I have to feel that inside.” She thought I was crazy, that I wanted a fantasy that never could happen. She thought a relationship was different: she thought it was all about getting all your ducks lined up in a row, with certain things happening, and most of all, the process was supposed to be simple and you had to put faith in that it would happen simply if you let it. Intriguingly, this is also the opinion of the woman in the film, who says to the man across from her, “…the best we can hope for is to love and be loved in return, it’s the same old story”. Pretty depressing if love is that clinical, eh?

But here’s the rub: the man insists with a smile, “you make it sound so simple…Some dream of quiet love, I favour chaos”. Which brings me back to the point of my story, and what feels like the point of ‘Dance in Colour’: for some people, relationships are black and white. You find someone, you feel good around each other, you get married, etc. Because that’s what society expects you to do. The voice of this song thinks this is rubbish; he wants to feel passionate about someone, burning from the inside out, even saying “I want to burn, I want it to effervesce”, feel something for a woman so deeply that everything around him is on fire. He wants the way he feels about her to make him catch his breath, to physically “hurt” him. (I found this line particularly apt for me; the few times in my life it’s happened, when I’ve fallen in love, I can feel my mouth doing the fish out of water thing, like I’m gasping for air. As a biologist by training, I chalk this up to a flight or fight response. But when I tell my girlfriends what’s happened, they look at me like I’m absolutely crazy because it doesn’t happen like that for them. Well, I guess I’m in the minority…) In the moment, he’s “glowing” from the romantic ardor he has for this woman. He’s feeling something! But he knows at some point he must leave: “I don’t care where I’m going…just that I’m going.”

I don’t want to forget the bridge: “Now I can’t hide my smiling eyes / why can’t you be quiet and just pretend that you miss me? / I’m weak and restless, young men are / it was always staying still that made me dizzy.” What does this mean? The woman in the film says she had to leave where she was from to travel around the world because “you know it was always staying still that made me dizzy”. Hmmm. The lovers in the song have been separated; with his “smiling eyes” that he “can’t hide”, he’s still thinking about when it was still good between them and when they were still together and wishes his lover felt the same way about that precious time they had together. But he’s also trying to apologise, saying he couldn’t stay in one place, that’s he’s a rolling stone. There’s a restlessness in the earlier line “I don’t care where I’m going…just that I’m going” that echoes the same sentiment in ‘Sal Paradise’ in ‘Hold Fast’: “You were for running away dear / strange ideals made it so very unclear how your heart feels.”

Of course, then there is the title. You know the phrase “it takes two to tango”? If Shakespeare was right and “all the world’s a stage”, then the way forward according to our protagonist is to “want a lover like no other” and to “dance in colour” with that person. And don’t force yourself to stay within the bounds of black and white. Don’t do what you’re told. Feel something. The song also says that relationships don’t always last forever. And that’s okay. We move on and grow, but remember the best parts of being with that person you loved.

Okay, so if I have entirely bored you out of your mind by the above, here is what you need to know: instrumentally, the song can’t be beat. The main guitar riff is entirely memorable and became implanted into my brain after the second listen. (In the part of my brain where Jimmy Page’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ solo resides.) And compared to, say, their first single ‘Backstreet Lovers’ that basically held the same tempo and feeling throughout, the way the first half is so different from the second is actually a pretty cool song structure to give more weight to the second half. What are the Crookes going to do next? Will they start their own production company and make films? I just hope they don’t stop making music.

Addendum: okay, so after reading the full lyrics just now, my impression that it’s about being restless has grown stronger. I sincerely love the lines, “I’m weak and restless, young men are /
it was always staying still that made me dizzy.” It’s an admission from the protagonist that he can’t help it, it’s in his nature to want to move on. If only all men were as honest. Something else interesting: scroll up two paragraphs and read the fourth to last sentence I wrote last night. “Feel something.” That I feel is the take home message.

8/10

The Crookes’ ‘Dance in Colour’, the other A-side to previously revealed single ‘Bear’s Blood’, will be released on 7″ and digital download on the 27th of May on Fierce Panda. The band will be headlining the Fierce Panda 19th birthday party at London Scala on Tuesday the 21st of May; tickets are on sale now and are £8 advance not including handling fees.

What I heard initially when transcribing:
You might smoke in black and white
but you should always dance in colour,
dance in colour.
Some dream of quiet love,
I favour chaos.
I want a love like no other,
so let’s dance in colour.

I want life to [I have absolutely no idea what this line is!]
of cold hands shaking,
of my own heart breaking.
‘cos there’s no words
to make me feel nothing at all.
I’m empty aching,
and so tired of just waiting.

Looks and whispers draw a stranger’s gaze
Why are you always sleeping?
It’s the middle of the day.
And they’re nothing, no, they’re nothing like us.
Why are you always running from the people that you love?

I want to burn, I want it to effervesce
’til the district’s glowing, the district’s glowing
I want it to hurt, to feel it in every breath
I don’t care where I’m going, just that I’m glowing

Now I can’t hide my smiling eyes,
why can’t you be quiet and just pretend that you miss me?
I’m weak and restless, young, and all it was always staying still,
it made me dizzy.

Looks and whispers draw a stranger’s gaze
Why are you always sleeping?
It’s the middle of the day.
And they’re nothing, no, they’re nothing like us.
Why are you always running from the people that you love?

Why are you always running, love?

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7 Responses

12:32 pm
24th April 2013

@tgtf the lyrics have been posted at the bottom of the video now. R. X
http://t.co/hqj1yOLuim

1:14 pm
24th April 2013

RT @tgtf: Sheffield’s Crookes @thecrookes branch out into film with their new single ‘Dance in Colour’: http://t.co/trROv2wzAC

[…] a mini-film set to the single, starring Sir Ben Kingsley’s song Ferdinand Kingsley. I reviewed it glowingly as a major step forward in the band’s songwriting. George prefaces the song’s […]

[…] be fine, it just takes time”, the last thing that person wants to hear. Like newer single ‘Dance in Colour’, it too is worthy of further introspective contemplation as Waite alluded to at the London Scala […]

[…] song makes you cry? Sid: ‘Disco 2000′ by Pulp has pretty touching lyrics. Henry: ‘Dance in Colour’ – The Crookes. Esme: ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ – Etta […]

[…] first single from the Sheffield band since the double A-sided ‘Bear’s Blood’ / ‘Dance in Colour’ single that was released in May 2013, the former of which represented a much harder, louder, […]

[…] played piano on this album (‘Holy Innocents’), which was a nice bridge from spring 2013 single ‘Dance in Colour’, which also featured piano. Piano isn’t really a ‘traditional’ rock ‘n’ roll instrument […]

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