For some reason, I’ve been haunted by depressing media of late. It reached boiling point yesterday when, sitting in my car too frightened to make a break for it in the face of torrential rain, I found myself transfixed by a current affairs report on the gloomy lives of mine workers in remote Australia who’d work 28 days worth of 12 hour shifts without the hope of normal social interaction or family life. Then this Bluejuice track, off last year’s well-received ‘Company‘ either came on the radio or came on in my brain and I remembered a devastating interview I’d read with frontman Jake Stone a couple of weeks back in which he lamented the band’s inability to crack the big time, three stellar albums in, and sounded generally anxious about his position in life, love and the music world. All this coming from the guy who, four short years ago was encouraging me with all the vitriol he could muster to ‘fuck the whole world and what everybody’s saying!‘. The two Stones, separated in my mind only by a couple of albums and some seriously awesome live performances, didn’t compute.
J reassured me later that day that that was what Jake was like, typically a straight talker, and that his interviews just didn’t translate well – if you caught him at a bad time, it might seem to the untrained ear that Stone was pretty blue. But what I read in that interview is given such tangible expression in this song that I’ll probably never be able to hear it, or watch its cheesy pseudo-spiritual LA betamax-inspired video again without those sober answers swashing around in the back of my mind. Which is not to say that the interview has devalued the song at all. Instead, it’s given myriad new levels of haunting realism by knowing or at least gaining some insight into the turbulence that underscores it. You can often derive a sort of pseudo-voyeuristic pleasure from having the inside scoop on what a popular song is really about but here there’s none of the swelling excitement, just serious engagement.
Where Bluejuice were always known to me more for their matching tracksuits, explosive onstage energy and not insubstantial skipping abilities than for their tender side, the balladry of ‘On My Own’ really strikes a chord with an understanding of the sentiment behind it. While irony and laughs play a significant role in the Bluejuice repertoire, you get the feeling that this song, with its subtle electro sensibilities (co-written by The Presets’ Julian Hamilton) is not just the quintet writing a song about songs about love and loss. In the way that the Temper Trap once were (and Art of Sleeping now are), ‘On My Own’ is memorably emotive, perhaps even more so for its overwhelming familiarity. Everybody has felt or will feel helpless, on their own, at some point. The messages of support for Jake came flooding in two weeks back, heartfelt words reinforcing that he was not alone. My concern has been appeased. When you can express your turmoil in so elegant, impactful a fashion, you’re bound to turn out okay.
Bluejuice – On My Own