Sacred Paws – Strike a Match

– this review was first published here at This Is Not a Drill –

On a grey day earlier this week Facebook presented me with a memory from two years ago (how strange is it, now that I think about it, that memories have become digital objects popping up on our news feeds?): me and Chrislyn sitting on the ground of the College quad, awkwardly smiling to a bright winter sun. I saw that on a grey day and found myself wondering, Where has that bright winter sun gone?

Well, it was just around the corner.

It came yesterday, in fact. While I was inside all day, going over equations to get them to make sense. Inside, where the sun always shines brighter. There’s a sort of thick glass panel in front of my window that acts like a prism, projecting rainbows on the floor. Meanwhile, Sacred Paws are projecting colourful, Matisse-like shapes in the air and I’m bouncing around on Strike A Match, the best record of the year. And it got me thinking…

What would I do on this bright-winter-sunny day?

Of course, I would have gone outside with Rob, for ice cream perhaps – together you can always convince each other to indulge yourselves. I would pick Honey-Yoghurt-Ginger, though I might not. Part of the fun of getting ice cream is worrying about which flavour to choose. (Incidentally, some very clever people I’ve read about didn’t bother with picking their food: Derek Parfit sat down once to decide upon the ideal breakfast, which he then ate every morning ever after; and Richard Feynman, who in college always had the choice between vanilla and chocolate ice cream for dessert, settled upon chocolate for the rest of his student life to avoid the daily struggle his fellow students seemed to face – I guess I’m just not born to be a genius). It would be deceptively cold outside. I would tell him about how great this new record I’ve discovered is, Belle & Sebastian good, even (he would appreciate that; we became friends over Belle & Sebastian). But as we’re outside, I wouldn’t be able to play it to him.

What would I do on this bright-winter-sunny day?

Of course, Kim would have been here. We might have gone to that Wittgenstein lecture. Or get a milkshake from this place called Moo Moo’s, who’ve got them in literally every possible flavour (you shouldn’t be surprised I like that). I can’t remember what we would be laughing about – it’s always something silly, and mostly me enthusiastically laughing at my own jokes, but we’d have fun. I would play her ‘Empty Body’ (again and again and again), which sounds so uncomplicatedly carefree, even though Rachel is singing: “My empty body is full of worry”. Ah, those bright winter suns are best when you’re slightly worried, like a provident sign. Makes your heart race a bit faster. Like you’re in love.

What would I do on this bright-winter-sunny day?

Of course, I would have done something extraordinary and simple. Explore a new place, who knows even climbing a fence and tearing my shirt. Finding an empty playground for my empty body, swings and all. Swinging along to Sacred Paws, too – not even a broken leg would stop me. I would insist on eating outside, taking a small book with me more for the pleasure of carrying a book in the inner pocket of my coat than for the reading itself (although that, too).

Or, would I stay inside?

Because that’s where the sun shines brightest. Rainbows and all. That’s where Sacred Paws are, colourful cut-outs and all.

Strike A Match, one more time.

Sounds a bit like that first Vampire Weekend record, too, except they stole it (so did Matisse, one might retort). I bet Sacred Paws have travelled backwards in time to influence them.

Strike a Match, shine a light.

I can’t let go of the positivity of this record. I could be completely mistaken about this. But if these songs are actually sad, then there is beauty in sadness. That’s a dangerous thought, but – prove me wrong! If ‘Wet Graffiti’ (“Do you wanna run away? / I wanna run away”) cannot be both (if One Hundred Years of Solitude can’t be both, for that matter), then which is it?

Strike a Match, my bright winter sun that was just around the corner.

-- Caspar Jacobs, February 10, 2017