Having been asked to write about my favorite album of all time, I am almost afraid to come to a conclusion. Do I go with the most impact record from my younger days (Volta‘s De-Loused), an amazing obscure beast from the 70s (Bubu‘s Anabelas/Cervello‘s Melos), the album I’m listening to the most right now (Vektor‘s Terminal Redux), or what? I shall consult the inner monologue a bit…
“Will you sit down
Is everybody happy?
There is a sign outside you house saying
“Everyone is happy”
Well I for one am most certainly not
Is everybody happy?
Is it just mud that breaks the whole world window?
I’ll turn as if to try”
Oh yeah. Thanks Tim Smith! I’ll go with A Little Man, A House, and the Whole World Window. I have to choose this album by Cardiacs, the UK’s best kept secret since the late 70s. No album has ever creeped into my consciousness so deeply and constantly. I’ve never felt so alone on this planet yet connected to another human at the same time. Cardiacs are infamously reviled by rock critics and loved endlessly by their fans. The AllMusic page is testament to this, and supposedly a few magazines blacklisted them in the 80s.
Some write Cardiacs off as a zany, wacky, fun-filled ‘pronk’ band. They have their silly moments, but I detect a sadness underneath it. I enjoy them more for their epic anthems and underlying dark atmosphere. It’s not progressive punk, it’s complex psych pop and it is as overwhelming as the mind. This tumultuous existence wasn’t our choice but we internally put ourselves through something much worse. Something isn’t quite right. We are all demented. Life’s apart and it lies on top of me. Life is constantly on my mind.
Tim Smith, their main songwriter, is an absolute genius and this album shows his varied creativity. For instance, check out the bridge in “The Breakfast Line,” which swells up in whirls of odd symphonic glory before a magnificently catchy guitar line comes in and fits the layered melodies like the pieces of a puzzle. There are so many memorable musical moments if you pay attention. You might miss them though.
The other thing that strikes me about this album is how oddly familiar it all sounded to me the first time I spun it. I never knew how heavily I could be influenced by something I had never heard. Cardiacs didn’t necessarily change music for me, they filled a void that existed. I don’t think there’s another album that has ever made me feel as much emotion as this one. I wouldn’t say it makes me feel proud to be human, but it does make me feel a little less disgusted.
Sadly, Tim Smith had a stroke a little under a decade ago, and we will likely never see their last album, supposedly titled LSD (unless Tim lets Kavus do vocals). Either way, I implore you to check out this album and spend some time digging through their discography, you will either hate me or thank me later.