Single Review: Longfellow – Choose

By on Friday, 11th September 2015 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by Tom Leishman

Venerated London indie label Fierce Panda Records is releasing its momentous 300th single today, and I’m pleased to announce that it comes from none other than one of my favourite bands on their roster, Longfellow. Following on from the excellent ‘Remedy’ EP that dropped back in April, ‘Choose’ is another pop gem that continues the South London band’s trend towards the anthemic.

The words that begin ‘Choose’ – “choose: be my saviour, be my downfall / choose: be my shelter, be my rain” – should tell you a lot about the foundation of this song. Any sort of love, especially when it becomes obsessive for either or both people involved in the relationship, runs the risk of going to either of two extremes. Either the other person is the most amazing person for you and makes *you* a better person too, or that person draws you in, quite possibly under false pretences that he/she loves you in the same way (“empty promises, vacant souls”). Interestingly, the song’s protagonist admits to his own foibles and shares the blame for the relationship going south: “I’m selfish, it’s true, I’ve often neglected you / Don’t seek intervention or force retribution”.

But when, then is it so hard to let go, if “you tell me that I’m useless and you used me to prop you up”? Because as you are loving that person, you can’t quite extricate yourself from him/her because you care so deeply for and want this person so much for your own. I think it’s safe to say we’ve all done this: when you’re in love with someone, you put your lover on a pedestal where he/she can do no wrong and you’re blind to all their faults. At some point, though, especially with all the turmoil going on inside your head, something’s gotta give.

These words of contrast reprise as the chorus throughout, but it becomes apparent pretty quickly that the situation frontman Owen Lloyd is singing about is a quite toxic one. Around Lloyd’s voice, the piano chords that have become Longfellow’s trademark come down, and chimes clang to indicate a crisis point has been reached. Both of these musical parts make the track heavy, but it’s a heft that makes perfect sense for such heartwrenching emotion that Longfellow are so good at in conveying, both lyrically and instrumentally. ‘Better Love’, the single’s b-side, is more in the folk pop vein, its lighter percussion and admirably twinkly keys not packing anywhere near the poignant punch of ‘Choose’. For some reason, ‘Better Love’ reminds me of early Fierce Panda signees Keane’s ‘Higher Than the Sun’, but it lacks a satisfying buildup or soaring vocals.

The big question I have is who here is being given the choice to choose. Even though it sounds like Lloyd’s putting the test to the other person to finally decide whether to soldier on or pack it in, the question can be directed inward too. Psychologically, all we are doing when we try and hold to someone who is clearly toxic and bad for our emotional well-being is enabling that person to continue to treat us badly. In some ways, ‘Choose’ is the negative counterpoint to their previous single ‘Hug-Kiss-Make Up’: perhaps ‘Choose’ shows a maturity, a taking off of the rose-coloured glasses?

8/10

‘Choose’ from Longfellow, the 300th single to be released by Fierce Panda Records, is available today in both digital and CD formats. Watch the video for the single, filmed in Berlin, below. For past coverage of Longfellow on TGTF, including their arresting appearance at the Wardrobe during Live at Leeds 2015 back in the spring, go here.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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