Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat
Everything's Getting Older


5.0
classic

Review

by AliW1993 USER (134 Reviews)
March 14th, 2015 | 18 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Birth, love and death: the only reasons to get dressed up...

By the time they got around to recording Everything's Getting Older, both Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat were well-established figures within Scotland's music scene. A jazz composer of considerable esteem, multi-instrumentalist Wells built his reputation as serial collaborator, with nary two successive releases coming under the same guise. Moffat, meanwhile came to prominence as one half of notorious gloom mongers Arab Strap; though his subsequent output has encompassed everything from poetry to abstract sampling. They were already acquainted with each other's methods too, with Wells having contributed arrangements to Arab Strap's Monday at the Hug & Pint - although in Moffat's words it took seven years simply to book a studio once it came to making their own record.

Of course, the consequence of such a lengthy stall was that come 2011 both artists found themselves engulfed by middle age. This is particularly pertinent in the case of Moffat, who for all his musings on sex, substances and boozy antics now set his focus not only on mellowing, but also being a role model for his young family. This shift in identity and all the insecurities which come with it are communicated beautifully on 'Let's Stop Here,' in which the singer tells of a chance reunion with a former crush. Grappling with his deepest impulses, the singer protests; "I am happy, I am spoken for / attached, under the thumb, I've settled down," all while confessing "you turned up to tempt me / older, wiser, sexier and free." As curiosity takes hold, he suddenly begins to retreat "I'm not saying that I've changed / I'm not entirely sure I even can / the old me's still inside / same mind, same heart, same soul I'm the same man."

In the end it's an opportunity he declines, though in many ways this uncomfortable encounter sets the tone for a record centered firmly around the rocky road towards maturity. It'd be easy to throw around terms such as midlife crisis, but the paradox is that it's the sound of a duo who, at least in musical terms, couldn't be aging more gracefully. Always a supreme lyricist, Moffat's words are arguably the most focused and evocative he's ever penned, with each stirring portrait - be it sung or spoken word - tying into the LP's weary titular theme. Wells, meanwhile, is the quiet master in the background, and it's his arrangements which lend these songs their salient sense of diversity.

At times, this can even manifest in bouts of playfulness. On 'Dinner Time,' for instance, minimal piano, tense cymbals and creepy field noises are set to Moffat's hushed tones, as he tells of an uninvited visit to a former residence. Taken together, their respective roles infuse a somewhat innocuous event with a riveting, almost Hitchcock-like strain of unease, so much so that come the lighthearted release it's difficult not to laugh at the sheer absurdity of it all. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, 'Glasgow Jubilee' uses quirky programmed beats as a platform for Moffat to let himself loose. A quintessential arc of filth, the singer's attention turns to the throwaway thrills of promiscuity and one-night stands, though these rhythmic tales of "pumping in the carpark," "fucking during lunch" and "grunting and thrusting between thighs" are each justified by the all-important bookend; "we could all be dead tomorrow."

They're both sensational cuts, however, the true essence of Everything's Getting Older comes when Moffat enters reflective mode, on a pair of songs which in their own right rank as mini-masterpieces. A monument of naked, numbing beauty, 'The Copper Top' bases itself in the aftermath of a cremation, and finds the lyricist drowning his sorrows and pondering his own mortality. Against Wells' mournful cello and stark piano palette, the hopeless sentiment culminates in him likening his own existence to that of the pub's decrepit roof - a brilliant copper top that's oxidised over the years, and now is a dull pastel grey. It's a metaphor steeped in such vivid, high definition imagery that one need not resonate to feel his devastation; nor the resignation as he sighs the immortal line; "birth, love and death: the only reasons to get dressed up."

Those cornerstones likewise form the basis of penultimate track 'The Greatest Story Ever Told;' though it's the central of the three which proves the pivot in its widescreen outlook. Forsaking the stresses of life, Moffat instead takes time to explore its miraculous beauty together with the joys it brings, all while acknowledging their utter irrelevance in a wider context. The antidote to any middle age slumber, its make-the-most message is practically identical to that of 'Glasgow Jubilee,' its tone of genuine warmth and heartfelt reassurance could not be further removed. Indeed, it seems only appropriate to sign off with the song's closing couplet, which provides this wondrous record with perhaps its single most poignant moment:

And plenty of people will try to tell you where we came from,
But we can only ever know what we can see,
So tonight, look up to the sky,
There's at least a hundred billion galaxies with a hundred billion stars,
And every single one could be a sun just like ours.

You see, we're all just links in a chain,
And all life is finite,
So use your time wisely; look after your teeth, and try not to hurt anyone,
And remember: we invented love,
And that's the greatest story ever told...




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user ratings (9)
Chart.
4.3
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Comments:Add a Comment 
AliW1993
March 14th 2015


7511 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is probably my album of the decade so far. The follow-up's out on Monday (and is also amazing), so this seemed like a pretty good time to review it. Please, please give it a go.



'The Copper Top:' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eu_qjcsF6Gs

'Glasgow Jubilee:' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66-79BFioh8

'The Greatest Story Ever Told:' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qh4UVKWUlEk



Let's see if we can get a commenter that's not zakalwe!

NorthernSkylark
March 14th 2015


9516 Comments


i predict that it will be zak's aoty (and yours and maybe even mine)

been a while since i gave this a spin!

Digging: Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions - Until The Hunter

NorthernSkylark
March 14th 2015


9516 Comments


wow i didn't even notice it didn't have a review, mad props
it's a great write-up

cryptside
March 14th 2015


2397 Comments


Wow, amazing review man. I am really interested in hearing this, will check asap.

AliW1993
March 14th 2015


7511 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Cheers guys, it's quite a while since I've had as much fun writing about a record (it's certainly longer than my usual reviews), so I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'll be covering the new LP at some point in the next week too.



@cryptside: At the very least give the tracks I linked in the first comment a try. 'The Copper Top' and 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' are genuinely two of my all-time favourite songs.

StrangerofSorts
Staff Reviewer
March 15th 2015


2905 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, sweet write up man. I remember you rec'ing this a while ago and I've spun it a fair bit since. Copper Top's definitely a classic.

TwigTW
March 15th 2015


3813 Comments


First listen I thought it was good, but the second listen I got the lyrics and loved it . . . I'd say I'm looking forward to the new album on Monday, but I'm enjoying this one too much.

Digging: P.P. Arnold - The New Adventures of ...

zakalwe
March 22nd 2015


28299 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is and the new one make the bottom lip quiver.



If you're a particular type of person it doesn't get more 'real' than this.

The new one is fucking spectacular

zakalwe
September 26th 2017


28299 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Becoming one of my all time faves.

Pheromone
December 11th 2017


7193 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I love this

Digging: Ornette Coleman - The Shape of Jazz to Come

Pheromone
December 17th 2017


7193 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really love this

zakalwe
December 17th 2017


28299 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This and the other one are top drawer.

Pheromone
December 17th 2017


7193 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'll have to give that a listen. I prefer these songs over most Arab Strap (bar New Birds)

zakalwe
February 21st 2018


28299 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

“And plenty of people will try and tell you where we came from. But we can only ever know what we can see. So tonight, look up to the sky. There's at least a hundred billion galaxies with a hundred billion stars and every single one could be a sun just like ours. You see, we're all just links in a chain and all life is finite. So use your time wisely, look after your teeth, and try not to hurt anyone. And remember: We invented love. And that's the greatest story ever told“



Fucking class.

anatelier
March 27th 2018


2858 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

this album is what it is to be human

Digging: Julio Nickels - Feeling Fickle

Pheromone
April 5th 2018


7193 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Have you guys ever listened to any other Bill Wells work? I chucked on his album Lemonade today and it's pretty good. The title track, though, is insanely beautiful and an instant classic.

anatelier
July 5th 2018


2858 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

glasgow jubilee is so brilliantly dark

anatelier
July 12th 2018


2858 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

feeling more and more like this is the greatest album i've ever heard



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