Antonomasia's Reviews > Phonogram, Vol. 2: The Singles Club

Phonogram, Vol. 2 by Kieron Gillen
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Feb 13, 2012

bookshelves: music, graphic-novels, 2012, favourites, decade-2000s
Read from February 27 to March 27, 2012 — I own a copy

How did TV on the Radio get on to the no-boy-singers playlist, anyway?

After two readings - one skim-read on the day it fell through the letterbox, and one closer reading after an online conversation in which it was mentioned - I still can't quite rate this book. Things from the past get in the way of seeing the now, as for Emily staring into the mirror at Clare.

However The Singles Club is more accessible to those less familiar with Britpop, unlike Rue Britannia: the story is driven more by the characters than by details about the music. It's a more sophisticated narrative too: Lloyd's word-filled fanzine-style pieces he writes at home after the event are a wonderful reboot after the visual drama of the club, and this isn't just about middle-class music snobs: Kid With Knife dabbles in phonomancery in his own chapter.

For the oxygen, the light, is the stories of different people, being able to climb into different perspectives of the same night, opening up other ways of being and seeing.

This time I don't just have to be Laura, with almost that same hair, trying absurdly to live through lyrics because she hasn't found her own words yet, getting ready at her more popular friends' place. (Though I was never a cutter, and some of the coolest kids were ex-cutters, having wisely got their angst out of the way before uni.) Then at the club which, if the same furniture were shuffled around the same room, would look even more exactly like the student union room where they held the indie disco I was 19. And ending the evening by wandering off into the night when it made little sense to do so. "Won't be having the time of my life tonight" at what should have been one of the best times for it.

There were those people whose lives seemed easy and happy and the right shape, people who were somehow able to fill their heads with interesting projects, the older ones who seemed to have graduated impossibly poised, the punk barmaid with limitless confidence, the rough local guys who were an easy pull for a student girl desperate for attention. All here. Rendered understandable and given interiority by the magic of fiction and the passing of time. Including the time when I became a beret-wearing Long Blondes fan.

Part of me says "How the hell do they [the authors] do it? How do they know?" But these evidently must have been common experiences, common characters in other places too. You may have been alone but you weren't the only one.
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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message 1: by Alex (new) - added it

Alex Sarll KwK is listening to 'Wolf Like Me' on headphones before he gets to the club, no?

Aug is DJing on Good Friday at a club which has adopted its first two rules from Never On A Sunday, but left out the 'no magic'. I feel a mixture of excitement and trepidation.

Will There's going to be a Phonogram sequel, where Claire comes through the mirror. The soundtrack is A-ha.

message 3: by Antonomasia (new) - added it

Antonomasia Last I heard the soundtrack was to be Madonna! Do you know when Gillen changed it? Any links?

Will "It also takes A-ha’s Take On Me with far too much seriousness — which, for us, is the correct amount of seriousness."

message 5: by Alex (new) - added it

Alex Sarll Either way, it's now delayed until next year - but the two of them are working on Young Avengers in the meantime, which is also exciting.

Matthew Marcus I finally read this after revising my opinion of Rue Britannia up to 4 stars from 2 (probably should write a review, really). I found some chapters much more compelling than others, and didn't care as much about the music this time round (listening to The Long Blondes right now and *still* completely unable to understand what's so interesting about them). Ultimately also I can't give a rave rating to a book whose message is "have nothing whatsoever in your head, you'll be happier and get tons more sex". Even if it might be true I suppose.

message 7: by Alex (new) - added it

Alex Sarll Surely the fact that intellect is as much curse as blessing has quite a literary and philosophical pedigree? Peter Watts would be the obvious reference, but it goes back at least as far as Buddha.

Matthew Marcus It's a defensible thesis but as a smart guy who likes thinking about music coming to a comic written by a smart guy who likes thinking about music, I'm not sure what I'm looking for is a big self-loathing torrent of "actually, people who think a lot about music are pseudy twats who are unlikely to ever get laid". What next, a Superman comic where Superman goes round to the specky comic-reading kids' houses and bullies them?

message 9: by Alex (new) - added it

Alex Sarll I think the message (in so far as it has one, and it really isn't a polemic, certainly compared to the first volume) is less binary, more 'sometimes, it really helps your life if you turn off the constant overthinking for a while'.

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