Listening Post #10

by Emily Pratten

January has promptly vanished right before our eyes and it continues to surprise and terrify me just how fast whole months are disappearing. It’s a pain when people comment on it. Soon it’ll be “Can you believe it’s only 6 months until Christmas?”. Every year. Every year since the dawn of capitalism and standardised time, perhaps.

Anyway, in an attempt to hold onto time that has long gone, this edition of the Listening Post is a throwback, and instead of new music, we’re going to take a look back at some iconic tracks that are incredibly old, incredibly good, and perhaps incredibly important to many a Year 10 secondary school pop punk playlist. Nothing new here in terms of revolutionary journalistic content, but perhaps a nostalgic moment to be shared by all. Relive your troubled youth here.

1. MGMT - Time To Pretend

Skins though. This is Skins, right? This is trying to get alcohol even though you were a tiny baby who could not get served no matter how much eyeliner you put on or what colour you dyed your hair. Fields and summers and sitting in bus stops. This 2008 classic hits Number 90 on NME’s 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. It’s about a fantasy rock star life and an inspiring glitzy distant future we are yet to experience and yet somehow crave, while remaining determined to throw caution to the wind in the present. It’s synthy and punchy and the transient voice lulls over the top talking about ennui and loneliness and doing heroin in Paris. “Life can always start off new”.

2. Paramore - Misery Business

This song is majestic and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise. It’s not the best Paramore song either, to be a total fan about it. But it’s perhaps one of their best known, and definitely better than the stuff they’re churning out now. Heartbroken as I would have been had they broken up, they should have called it a day after two of their band members left. Anyway, this song is aggressive and angsty and angry and God, I bet no-one else understands me. “I never meant to brag, but I’ve got him where I want him now.” The signature vocal of Hayley Williams is passionate and genuinely impressive. If someone wanted to know what 00s pop punk was about, I’d send them here. It’s a huge fuck you to just about everyone, really.

3. Fall Out Boy - Sugar We’re Going Down

This one is in a similar boat to Misery Business in that I doubt there was a soul in my year group at school that didn’t have this song on their Motorola Razr. Do those timelines sync up? Even if they don’t, you get my gist. Fall Out Boy came out of nowhere with this one. Patrick Stump with his scale-climbing angel voice and Pete Wentz with his beautiful fringe. What teen girl could avoid being sucked into this “Sugar we’re going down swinging” guitar fest? The breaks in percussion to allow for a long note to ring out before they come crashing back in? Beautiful.

4. The Killers - All These Things That I’ve Done

It’s very easy to go straight to Mr Brightside with this type of throwback/songs of the decade type thing, and there’s no wonder, given that it’s probably one of the best songs ever written. However, this track often gets left out of such lists due to the infamous glory of its brother. Yet 2004 single, All These Things That I’ve Done from The Killers’ debut album, is equally glorious. Gospel choirs, building rolling guitar riffs, and “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier”. This one’s still as listenable and enjoyable as it was on the day it was released; it ages well, and in many ways its timeless nature makes me inclined to argue that it’s perhaps the best song on this list. Brandon Flowers and co. took the world by storm with what is perhaps one of the best debut albums that’s been dropped in my lifetime, certainly.

5. Sum 41 - In Too Deep

Released in 2001 from the album, All Killer, No Filler, the very opening bars of this song will cause waves of nostalgia in the most stern of individuals. Pop punk alt-rock, short and guitar heavy, this one’s iconic. Scrappy, skating, spikey-haired, jumping around in an empty hollowed-out pool, used in just about every kid’s television programme there was at the time. You know this one. It’s actually incredibly relevant given that lyrically, it now very much applies to our efforts to get a degree.