tricky little gun [pop jamz 08]

Jack White / Alicia Keys - Another Way to Die

Quantum of Solace
is unaccountably awesome - wafer thin plot, brilliant action, a sense (but not sensibility) of emotional complexity, no real baddy. Then there's the Jack White and Alicia Keys theme, Another Way To Die.

So at the start it's all orchestral percussion section, with some far-out motorcycle-motor guitar effect, news-bulletin strings, etc etc.

But it's the subtle little things that really work this song into something great. Not the plinking piano key high notes that Alicia adds at various points throughout, though they are cool.

Nah, it's the really left-of-centre bits like the purposefully electronic-drum-kit-sounding electronic drum kit that lays down the bottom end, then the more-piano-than-piano lower notes that hang like butcher's hooks at around 0.36, then the hi-hat that sounds like the thing has had twenty cracks cut out of the metal. All of this over-produced/under-produced weirdness in the instrumentation is sweet.

But the best thing about the whole thing isn't even there yet - it's not only the fairly interesting gender tension between Jack and Alicia that gives this song a dynamic, but the fact that Jack (I'm inclined to think) has produced this thing in just the most bass-less, tinny way as possible so their voices come out as if they were gloriously untreated and without a bottom end. Like they're on one side of a concrete basement, mic at the other.

This textural quality lets itself loose across the whole song, actually, and every instrument starts to sound hollow, worn-out, ragged. Like a White Stripes song almost! But there's still the fairly controlled orchestral issues floating around the place, and a fairly rad guitar line, even some horns at some point.

Jack throws in a guitar solo quite irreverently over the top of what would normally be the 30 second highlight of this kind of song (a Bond theme song) - Alicia's wordless 'ooo bu do' female vocalist thingy, farting guitar just prickled all over it.

Quite possibly the most inspired moment, however, is the duelling, corkscrew 'o's that grate between Jack and Alicia at the song's climax (in trad narrative sense, ie, somewhere in the middle, then denouement) - it's got a bite and urgency behind it like Bond's never seen. It sucks up the whole song behind it, it's a barren desert no matter how much shit is going on.

And the lyrics, well 'another' gets trotted out like there's no tomorrow, the whole thing just piling up possibilities that can only end in the pseudo-nihilist sentiment of "It's just another way to diiiieee!" - it's more like Jack and Alicia are saying, what's this all for? It's just another way to kill and resurrect the Bond theme in a single blow. Quite suits this visceral Daniel Craig Bond, methinks.

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