Sunday, 29 July 2007

Punch & Judy


The first single from Fugazi, and the only one with a hint of commercial appeal. It's somewhat of a departure from the territory that Fugazi usually treads; it's still somewhat nightmarish, but it's a middle age, middle class, mid-life crisis nightmare rather than that of a drug fuelled rockstar. But perhaps it's the same thing; the rockstar fearing the mediocre life of ennui that could befall him if he doesn't press on with his hedonistic, self-destructive ways. Wherever the idea stemmed from, though, it's a pretty huge success. Not commercially -- it stalled at #29, which was a bit of a dip following "Garden Party", which hit the top twenty -- but artistically it's a pretty big triumph, at least as far as I'm concerned.

The song was first released in 1984, which shows how much some things don't change, because twenty three years later, the picture of a stereotypical suburban lifestyle painted by the verses sounds extremely familiar; "Found our nest in the Daily Express/Met the vicar in a holy vest/Brought up the children Church of E/Now I vegetate with a colour TV". It's all fairly lighthearted and dripping with satire, which leaves you wholly unprepared for the disarmingly earnest chorus that plainitevly wonders where it all went wrong, "Whatever happened to pillow fights?/Whatever happened to jeans so tight, Friday nights?". It's a surprisingly touching reminder that inside every miserable, balding, overweight office drone is a boy with real passions and dreams that somehow fell by the wayside.

Of course, much like the domestic abuse in the puppet show the song is named for, there's an unexpected sinister tone to it all; with Fish's frantic vocals dropping in and out of falsetto all over the place, it's pretty easy to miss the fact that the final verse ends with the line "Just slip her these pills and I'll be free". That's pretty bleak.

Video: Punch & Judy (and Assassing, but that's not what the link is for)
Way to flub the second verse there, Fish.

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