In this first of three parts, I take a look at the songs that make up numbers 25 through to 16.
25. Massive Star at the End of Its Burning Cycle (B-Sides & Rarities, Volume 1: ‘… Then We Take Japan’)
I was really doubting if this song would still fit in my top 25. 65 have better songs that could’ve taken its place, but this one’s personal. My grandfather died 8 years ago, after his heart gave up on him. He was far from old, but in his life, he burned so bright and he enriched so many lives because of it. For five minutes, Massive Star makes me feel like I’m with him again.
24. PX3 (Heavy Sky EP)
Oh how I had hoped this song would feature on We Were Exploding Anyway. PX3 was one of the bigger hits during the test tour for the album, but I can understand why it didn’t make it on there. It’s not a natural fit within the sound of the album. I’m still glad I got to hear it live though, as there hadn’t been a song since Radio Protector that evoked this warm, happy feeling. But where Radio Protector has so many more layers of emotion, PX3 can’t make it further than ‘only’ bliss. What bliss it is though.
23. Await Rescue (One Time for All Time)
Await Rescue still is one of my favourite live tracks. It’s very symptomatic of the old 65, when louder always meant better. It’s incredibly dense with twists and turns, and Rob is an absolute MONSTER on drums here. For some reason I can’t quite figure out, it doesn’t turn up on my playlists at home as much as it used to. But it had to feature here, if only because it’s the only song by the band that has literally caused me to hurt my neck headbanging.
22. Thrash Waltz (Stumble.Stop.Repeat EP)
65 have often been described as a band ‘playing the soundtrack to the end of the earth’. For most of their career, this seems to have been through. The amount of energy that courses through their songs could make you wonder if there’s anything left for when the music stops. The added hint of sadness which seeps through most of their music just adds to that image. Thrash Waltz reminds me of how this would be represented visually. It’s always made me imagine this slow-motion dance party to end all dance parties, with no clue as to what the future holds.
21. Pillars of Frost (No Man’s Sky: Music for an Infinite Universe)
Honestly, this was a tough call. Pillars of Frost doesn’t really work as a standalone song. It’s quite the stretch to even call it a song. But I couldn’t leave out the one song on the No Man’s Sky soundtrack that makes me feel as if I’m exorcising my demons. It feels like crying harder than you ever have, but in the middle of a tropic thunderstorm. You can’t even see the tears on your face because of the downpour, but it feels like you’re understood, as even the heavens can’t keep their tears from falling.
20. AOD (Stumble.Stop.Repeat EP)
I’m a really fortunate person. For many reasons really, perhaps too many to list here. But ESPECIALLY because 65 have played 65 quite often here in Belgium. Even during the We Were Exploding Anyway tours, AOD found itself in the encore, and what a brilliant song it is to finish such a high-octane show. It’s probably 65’s most inwardly directed, introverted song. It feels sad and comforting at the same time, as if you’ve both lost someone special, maybe even the same person. The song tells you not to let it destroy you though, and to fight to get back on your feet. Nothing more, just getting back to your feet, as that is a tremendous achievement in and of itself.
19. Dance Parties [Mechanised] (The Distant and Mechanised Glow of Eastern European Dance Parties EP)
The Distant and Mechanised Glow of Eastern European Dance Parties seemed an odd fit for The Destruction of Small Ideas. While most of that album was focused more on intricate songwriting and more typical post-rock, it stood out as something of a precursor to what was to come with We Were Exploding Anyway. The production on the EP fit the song so, so much better though. I actually like the added trance-vocals and some of the new breaks, and think it’s a perfect counterweight for the drastic change that was the [Distant] mix. It also served as a wonderful set-opener in late 2007.
18. Unmake the Wild Light (Wild Light)
This is a weird one. Part of me keeps telling me that it should be so much higher on this list. It’s part of the second half of Wild Light, which, as you’ll notice further down this list, I rate really highly. As in: the best half of an album by any band in the world, ever. #NoYoureExaggerating It’s a gorgeous song, with some incredibly heavy noise-breaks early on (those popped my ears a couple of times during live shows), and this beautiful repetitive build-up that gets swallowed up by the noise of eternity. The piano is also brilliantly simple yet effective, and the extra guitar that drops in late on is heart-breaking. I still can’t believe this song is so low on this list.
17. Fix the Sky a Little (The Fall of Math)
When I was younger and not better, just more foolish, I used to hope that I would marry someone someday who would agree to have this as our first dance. It would still be pretty cool to do that, but I know now that this should not be one of the major reasons for marriage. That doesn’t take away from the insane beauty of this song though. It’s probably one of the band’s sadder songs, and the way it spirals out of control just over halfway reminds me a little too much of what happens when depression hits hard. But then it pulls itself together again for the finale, and it turns kind of… hopeful? Maybe the depths of despair can be survived and you can come out of it the better? I did say maybe.
16. Heat Death Infinity Splitter (Wild Light)
It might not seem obvious from this list, but I think 65 have a particular knack for having great album openers and closers. Every single album opens and closes with a bang, even though it happens in very different ways. Heat Death Infinity Splitter is by far my favourite of the openers though. Facing the hard task of announcing ALL OF THE CHANGES from We Were Exploding Anyway to Wild Light, it succeeds so perfectly. It’s a slow burner, but it doesn’t pull any punches. It’s like the beat from Tiger Girl slowed down immensely, landing hit after hit to try and get you to slow down with it. I especially love when the song stops for a fraction of a moment and then truly explodes back into action again.
So what do you think about my choices? Let me know, and check back soon for the next part in the countdown.