Sequence this one right after “All My Shades of Blue” (oh, I guess I’ve done that for you), more bad love with orchestral swirls.
This time though we don’t have the specificity of someone pining for the one that got away. This is a credo, a mission statement. “It started with a kiss/Right between the eyes” the singers (Tracyanne Campbell from Camera Obscura and Danny Coughlan from I-don’t-know-where, he’s probably big in the UK) begin, fatalistically, and they then expand on the notion of the inevitability of heartbreak: “this purgatory love came as no surprise.” Love is also a “fantasy” that “always goes from bad to worse,” and in the background a Burt Bacharach melody and arrangement (those piano trills!) remind of how easy it is to be deceived otherwise. (This is a trick Elvis Costello often plays on us too.)
There’s a clever video for the song, with Tracyanne and Danny playing ghosts who haunt a pair of young lovers, pushing them toward discord and break-up. Does every new love carry the burden not just of past experience but of a profound brokenness with the concept of love? Is what proves love’s reality the pain it causes? It doesn’t feel that way from the inside, but I suppose it’s arguable.
Heady stuff for a Saturday morning! How about that little vocal hiccup on the word “hurts” though: another joke at the expense of love, or a slight moment of self-doubt that maybe the picture’s not as bleak as they have painted? Or perhaps an acknowledgement that such bleakness, although accurate, is untenable in real life? Kind of a dead end in pop music too.