Words: By Ingrid Marie Jensen
This is shaping up to be a weird summer.
Last week I found a severed hawk’s wing gnawed to feathery fragments by possums and dogs in the front yard. The Mississippi Kites have not returned to their usual summer home in the spruce tree and even the twilight frog-song carries a decided undercurrent of anxiety. Half the people I encounter on a daily basis look tense and mutter dark predictions about economic crashes, rampant anarchy, the fact that that summer heat is once again causing the state of California to curl up in spastic agony like trout au bleu, and why doesn’t this coffee shop offer macadamia nut milk when studies have shown it contributes least to global warming?
We are all in need of a heavy dose of escapism this summer, a nice long draught from the river Lethe. ‘Cry Baby,’ the third in a string of excellent singles from Maggie the Cat, is a smooth disco number that might just be an antidote to the extreme tension. Maggie, also of the post-punk ensemble Madonnatron, is a songwriter hailing from South London. Her latest single, out on Trashmouth Records, is cloaked in a silver-lamé glamour that harkens back to an era which, at least in retrospect, seems a veritable seventh heaven of ease and promise. (“Do you ever feel that things were so much easier when you were a child?/Did tomorrow seem like just a distant dream or the promise of a fairground ride?” Maggie sings.)
The label’s release announcement describes the single: “A Disco dystopia throbbing in a once opulent basement nightclub, while you listen submerged in a jacuzzi filled with black tequila, wearing rubber speedos stuffed with quaaludes. The ghost of a washed-up Broadway starlet chugs languidly on a cigar and massages your dirty feet. There is no clock, no telephone and the darkly sparkling sequin clad walls are eerily padded. You discover that you are savagely aroused by the taste of salt in your own ecstatic tears…”
Disco is by definition hedonistic, escapist, a sort of siren-call to a dancefloor dreamland that ceases to exist the moment the sound system is cut off. That’s one of the best things about dreams; pleasures carry none of the inevitable consequences that they do in reality. ‘Cry Baby’ is a disco dream that offers pleasure without consequence, without pain. Revel in it.