Videos by American Songwriter
I have a major crush on a band. And I’m worried it’s going to be an unrequited love. I’m afraid of their next record. Like I’m afraid of commitment.
Their music is so painful to my heart. It hits me right where I hurt, smacks me over the head with love. And they’re totally obscure-they ain’t from around here. The closest they’ll probably ever play to me is Manchester, England, some 3,330 miles away. They’re called the Research, and so far, they only have one album-it’s called Breaking Up. And it’s brilliant.
For all the information that exists out there, the Research remains a bit of a mystery. Here is a bit of biographical information from their web page:
THE RESEARCH comes from the University of Wakefield in West Yorkshire. It is Russell (El Disastero) on the melodies, Sarah on the rhythms and Georgia on the subs. They cut a record with John McEntire in 2006 and it was released by Large/EMI. They toured in support of bands like the Cribs, the Go! Team, Maximo Park and some others and they had international success in Greece, Holland, the U.S. of America, and Austria, despite the label depriving most of these lands of recordings.
Right. Three young Brits, a keyboard, a homemade drum kit, and a bass guitar is all that make up this band. Apparently, the music they make falls under the auspices of “twee.” I don’t even know what Twee is. I don’t really want to know. They’re not twee to me, damn it.
Breaking Up is perhaps the most perfectly executed “concept album” I’ve ever heard. The wounded lovers in this story, played by Russell and his band-mates, sound like they’re leaving messages on each other’s answering machines through the entire album. There’s this sense of remove between the guy and the girl, a trick of the pan of the speakers, but a lyrical one as well. “I never see you anymore/You’re never there when I call/And you’re asking me/’Why are we breaking up?'” Georgia sings as the album begins. “I had headphones on/I couldn’t hear the phone ringing,” replies Russell, “I was a jerk and now you’re gone/In my defense I was singing about you.” The next song is their catchiest number, and declares over and over, “I love you, but I’m scared I’ll fuck it up.” Soon, time gets displaced-“I bet if we kissed the swings would freeze in motion/I bet if we kissed a storm would blow across the ocean,” sings Russell. It’s unclear if he’s describing the moment before their first kiss, or a reconciliation. That’s the beauty of it. Post-breakup, pre-breakup, it’s all in there, somewhere, swirling around in a time-compressed haze. “I should have learned to walk away from love before I learned to crawl.” This to me is teenage Shakespeare.
Breaking Up is the kind of album you have to listen to from start to finish, like Sgt. Pepper’s or In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. I was first introduced to it by a friend who burned me a copy of their CD which he’d purloined off the Internet. Later I found out he’d only listened to “I Love You, But…” “What?!?!” I cried. “Blasphemy!” He said he’d listen to the whole thing but I knew he wouldn’t. Some times the easiest way to scare people off a band is to be passionate about it.
I also have all these weird, personal connections to the band, which I won’t get into fully here. One example-my other job is working in research. The final song is called “Splitting Hairs,” which is what this column used to be called. Hmmm….
On my recent cross-country trip I brought but one Research song. I couldn’t bear to finally play the record out, and I couldn’t bear to completely be without them. I won’t listen to the new songs on their MySpace page. I’ll wait to hear them as they were meant to be heard, surrounded, I hope, by their sublime partners.
The band promises me they’ll be back. Their Wikipedia page says they’ve dropped the keyboard, and added a guitar player. They’ve also got a few gigs scheduled across the pond. Who knows if they’re really still together or if they’ve broken up?
Here’s the rest of their bio:
Throughout 2007 they were plagued with politics and they recorded their second album three times with different producers and sometime they disbanded with EMI. They haven’t been playing out so much on account of their troubles, but all that is about to ch ch ch change. Sarah is moving back to Wakefield and the Research will be born again and they will bring joy to all the creatures again and they will be mortally uncomplicated again and they will have wings and they will take you under them and show you how to disappear and then set you almost free. They are the same as ever, and yet, somehow, terribly different. HERE GOES NOTHING.