The Good Ship Rediscovery: Six by Seven - The Things We Make
We all forget about the older stuff from time to time, in our quest to stay up to speed with the latest and greatest. But one should always respect their elders. So don’t forget about them, y’hear?
I must say, friends, that some of my favorite music of the late 90s was brought to my attention via some very lovely English friends and the very lovely, well-compiled mixtapes they were kind enough to send my way. Such is the case with Nottingham outfit Six by Seven, though my love affair with their record The Things We Make was years in the making and wasn't exactly what you'd call love at first listen. Sandwiched between songs by bands like The Verve and Theaudience (among many others), I just couldn't quite wrap my brain around Six by Seven. At least, not to start with.
You see, Six by Seven wasn't like many of their UK compatriots of the day, especially those that had a modicum of success on US shores. Though they could certainly never be considered Britpop in the genre's truest sense, there were indeed certain cheeky, sneaky pop undercurrents rippling underneath the surface hither and thither amongst the louder noises. For that's really what most of what the band made on this record qualifies as: noise, sweet, loud noise.
The LP begins in a lull of sorts, a slow, almost gentle suspended creep of an intro with a subtle air of expectancy. "The things I make/they have no use/but they have the most beautiful shape," goes the song "A Beautiful Shape," as the noise gets ever so slightly more robust and hints at all things to come. What comes next isn't, judging from the first song, what you were probably expecting. "European Me," the song that was my introduction to Six by Seven, is an epic, a quality exercise in noise, distortion, drone, and vocals that are off key but who the hell cares because it all sounds so good? At times dissonant, this slow and steady mover churns over seven minutes, and holds you in its sticky, sludgy grasp with an iron fist. When I first heard the song, I was too enamored with three-minute nuggets to truly appreciate what I was hearing. These days, however, "European Me" is a constant favorite.
What might Six by Seven do next, you might wonder? Simple. The band decided it was time for something completely different. "Candlelight" is more in the vein of "traditional" indie rock, much more straightforward in composition and far less sheer noise. The line "Open your eyes/close the door/take what's yours" gets me every time, as well. A come-hither eyebrow raise of a lyric if ever there was one. And so it goes, all record long. Lots of noise, lots of energy, and lots to love.