If exposure to Dylan’s electric anger was a revelation, then my introduction to the soft psyche of The Millennium was equally so, but in an inevitably more gentle manner. And although I had nudged into some of the sixties sounds earlier through the likes of The Kinks and, yes, The Beach Boys, it was the introduction to the fascinating interconnected world of The Millennium gang that really got me going.
Of course there have been contemporary records that have meant a lot in the past seven years. There have been new groups that have excited me and whose records I have loved and over which I have enthused excitedly. But changed my life? Opened me to new horizons? Not really, no (although Jens Lekman’s When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog would probably be the best placed to refute that point).
I am not sure why I feel inexorably drawn back to the soft psyche and bubblegum music of the mid to late 1960s. It’s certainly not the music of my youth. It’s not the music that was playing during my most formative years, but perhaps it is the music that most perfectly captures the essence of those years; is the music from which so many of my later loves drew reference from. For so many of the songs and records of that time are rooted in the essential moments of late teenage awakenings; are suffused with a sense of the new and the now that last through the years like tiny fragments of energy and emotion captured in a photograph. It is nostalgia for an age I never knew, an age I was too young to remember and yet somehow yearn to have experienced. And all the while I know full well that what I’m nostalgic for is a false reality; a mediated illusion crafted from a cascade of imagery and sound.
But after all, isn’t that what all the records that change our lives are all about? They all connect together moments, places, people and emotions. Real or imagined, it’s all the same. It all comes together in the heart and the head; a string of fascination with the self and our place within the world. The records, like the films and the paintings, the photographs and the books are ciphers and conduits, sometimes sparks of illumination.
So whilst I don’t expect any album to change my life from here on in, I do expect the music yet to be heard, old and new, to subtly mould that life in unexpected ways. It’s really quite a thrilling prospect.