We listen to music of dead people all the time, nothing new there. Most artists that left us, though, did so at the end or their career. Sometimes at the peak of it, so that a cult-status guaranteed. Ou est le swimming pool’s singer Charles Haddon couldn’t wait that long. He committed suicide on the 20th of august this year on the parking ground of Pukkelpop, shortly after the band performed at the festival. The story is that Haddon had unexpectedly jumped of the stage during their show, injuring a female member of the audience, who innitialy seemed to be in a bad state. For the already suicidal Haddon it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Later he jumped from one of the light-towers. It’s a sinister course of events that somehow I feel has a greater chance of taking place in Belgium than anywhere else.
Ou est le swimming pool’s debut was already recorded and is now released posthumously, at least as far as Haddon is concerned. The album was going to be called Christ Died For Our Synths but after Haddon’s death was renamed The Golden Year, which sounds equally inappropriate to me. OELSP’s single Dance the way I feel ruled the UK dancefloors early this year, putting OELSP down as London’s answer to the electropop wave coming from Manchester.
Fans of Dance the way I feel better scroll down to our review of Fenech-Soler or wait for the many dance-mixes that will undoubtedly be made of many of the tracks on The Golden Year. In it’s current version The Golden Year is far from a dance-album.
You started, arranged without a rhythm-section, it’s an Elton John-ish hymn that wouldn’t stand out on Scissor Sisters album. IT’s a surprising start to an album that’s hard to categorize. What follows is a gradual ascent from synthPop with a capital ‘P’ to Synthpop with a capital ‘S’. The Key gives a good impression of what Empire of the Sun might have sounded like if they were from a rainy London-suburb instead of sunny down under. Like A Flock of Seagulls 30 years early OELSP use advanced electronics to construct a sound that is highly conventional. These new knights rolls smoothly into a barren version of OELSP’s big dancehit. Stripped from all the distracting dancefloor extras it’s hard to denay that Dance The Way I feelis a very good song and a lot darker then you might innitially think. Then again, every song sounds much darker with the knowledge of what happened after. It’s hard not to scan The Golden Year’s lyrics for indications of Haddon’s fatal disposition. Those of The Final Curtain sound especially morbid now: But now the final curtain’s calling/ and I’ll be gone by morning/ it’s time to say goodbye/My life’s too short to wonder why/I’ll carry on all fine/and I’m leaving now/Because that’s my right.
Circumstances around it’s release make The Golden Year an interesting album, but don’t make it better. OELSP’s have really only written one great song and two or three that are almost similar. Then there are a few lightweight happy-go-lucky songs, either influenced by Daniel Millers Sillicon Teens or in Mika style, neither really work. The Golden Year is an uncoordinated album with a lot of badly executed ideas. Sadly, we will never find out if they would have been capable to improve themselves in the same line-up.
Tip: Check out the Sillicon Teens on the indiefuzz Spotify playlist, as an important part of the synthpop canon.