25gigsofstatic – part 3

For part one of the countdown, click here, for part two, it’s this way.

5. Crash Tactics (We Were Exploding Anyway)
I never, ever expected Crash Tactics to be ending up this high on a list of favourite 65 songs. There are so many beautiful, heart-breaking, grandiose songs to choose from. They have plenty of songs which are of a higher technical level. The amount of reasons not to put it in the top 10 are plentiful.
This is a pop song, unlike most of the pop songs 65 have written (they’re the ones who claim to write pop. They’re also the ones to acknowledge that most of their songs end up not being pop songs, so fair play). But it works so gloriously.
It’s not even just a pop song. It’s a rock song featuring loads of heavy electronics. You can’t tell me that the DUN-DUN-HEY DUN-DUN-HEY isn’t blood-pumping rock. It’s also an electronic song which features live instruments heavily. The electronic beat that courses through the song is infinitely danceable, but it’s made even better because of the live drums which pound underneath.
Joe’s guitar and Rob’s drums which introduce the track imply that something epic is coming our way. The first tease of the beat promises that you will dance. It’s fairly crazy to then consider that most of the song feels like the band is still holding back, still building towards the explosive frenzy which features heavily on tracks like Go Complex. The beauty of the song is that you don’t even realize that. You’re still going to be jumping, bopping, whatever it is people do now when music forces their bodies to move. It makes you feel alive. It makes you want to shout “FUCK YEAH” in everybody’s face.
It also sets up the rest of the album in the best way. After Mountainhead showed us that WWEA is a departure from The Destruction of Small Ideas, Crash Tactics just hammers this home, and for a while makes you forget the previous albums even existed. It’s an incredibly powerful song, and I hope it will remain a live favourite for a long time to come.

4. Retreat! Retreat! (The Fall of Math)
Talking about songs that make you want to go “Fuck yeah!”, here’s the most Fuck yeah-song in the history of music! If I need something to give me courage, if I need something to keep me going, Retreat! Retreat! is my go-to song.
65 have never been just a rock band (or fit into any other single label, for that matter), but this is the most rock’n’roll the band have ever sounded and will probably ever sound. Just hearing the intro you feel like you’re going to be swept up into something huge. The voice sample (which is from pretty dumb movie to be fair. I watched it because of this song. Hearing the lines from the sample was pretty much the only thing worth remembering) has become anthemic now, as crowds now shout out “THIS BAND IS UNSTOPPABLE” before the band fly into a frenzy of guitars, bass and drums.
About halfway through, the song seems to threaten that it’s going to peter out, only to come back even more ferocious than before.
It ends on something of a breather, like a ray of sunshine that bursts through the clouds after a heavy storm. It’s a good thing too, as it gives us a moment to relax before being thrown into the oddity of Default This.
The band have evolved over the years to something completely different from the FoM era, but I’m glad Retreat! Retreat! keeps finding a way into their setlist. Any 65 fan who gets to see the band live deserves to have witnessed the live version at least once in their lives.

3. Radio Protector (One Time for All Time)
Oh what a big surprise to find Radio Protector this high up the list. It’s their “greatest hit”, it’s the one song that people ask for at every show, it’s the one song non-fans of the band actually know. It’s become something of a post-rock hit, up there among the best works by Explosions in the Sky and Mogwai, among others.
Many fans of the band wonder why people keep going on about this song, as the band have since its release written plenty of other incredible songs. I can kind of see their point: 65 have songs that are better from a technical point of view, and they have written songs that are better from a songwriting pov.
The secret is: Radio Protector is a kind of magic. It sounds pretty simple, but there are an infinite amount of hidden layers to it. It can shift to become whatever you need it to be. When I’m happy, it becomes triumphant. When I’m sad, it can become heart-breaking, but just as likely it can become comforting. When I’m angry, it becomes violent, or soothing in equal measure.
The band have also shaped it to become something else over time. The best-known version, from One Time for All Time, is almost unrecognizable from its earliest version on the Watch the Stars Fall EP. There has been a slowed down version, which becomes even more post-rock-y in the first half of the song, only to make the second half feel even more frenetic than usual. And then there’s the time when the song’s outro got changed to segue into A Failsafe through some excellent drum’n’bass.
None of the changes have ever lessened the impact of the song though. Like I said, it’s magic.

2. Tiger Girl (We Were Exploding Anyway)
I had a really hard time choosing between my top two spots. There was a time when Tiger Girl was the undisputed number one, before life got in the way and changed its meaning for far too long. There was a time when the current number one was undisputed as well, as Tiger Girl had been tarnished for me. Right now, it’s practically a tie. On another day, maybe this would be my number one. But for now it will have to settle for a very honourable second place.
What a monster of a song it is though. I don’t think the band could ever write another song like it. At ten minutes long it might struggle to keep the listener’s attention for the entire duration, but herein lays its genius: the song allows you to drift off at times, while it sends you subtle reminders when it’s time to check back in.
It marks the first time the band has felt free enough to just use a simple 4/4 beat, but they can’t even do that regularly. During the first half of the song it relies mostly on an electronic beat, with Rob playing some electronic drums alongside. After the intermission halfway through, Rob starts pounding that same beat on his live drum kit, with Paul and even Simon chiming in with additional percussion. It creates something that feels like a heartbeat, a foundation upon which the rest of the song is built. 65 take their precious time in adding layer upon layer upon layer of electronics, to create an incredibly full and yet not overly stuffed sound.
Things start getting truly epic when Paul’s drums join in, and you can almost feel the tension rising in the song. Despite the beat remaining the same, it feels we’re going up a gear, before some excellent synths turn things up to eleven. By the time Joe comes in with his guitar, I’m dancing through the tears, as emotions threaten to boil over but it’s impossible to stop moving. The guitar offers such sweet release, all built-up tension flowing through your veins and up into the night-sky.
The final minute full of reverb is a welcome reminder to just wind down and breathe again. What a song. It has to be played at the end of an album/playlist/gig to be fully appreciated, because there’s nothing that can come after that will satisfy in the way Tiger Girl does (the band have tried opening a set with it, at the first ArcTanGent festival, and it felt a little out of place, despite being amazing). It also really needs its full runtime, as the shorter Wishful Thinking edit (from the Heavy Sky EP) has proven. Listen to it with your eyes closed, listen to it with the person you love most of all, listen to it with all your heart, listen to it in the pouring rain: this is euphoria.

1. Safe Passage (Wild Light)
As I mentioned before, I don’t think there’s any better half of an album than Wild Light’s final quartet of songs (without any of the bonus tracks). The songs play into each other’s strengths, and could only be rounded off with the most epic of finales. Safe Passage provides that, and then some.
I remember the band releasing a couple of teasers before the release of Wild Light. The first introduced a snippet of Prisms, announcing the evolution in sound since We Were Exploding Anyway. Then there was another teaser, featuring Paul hunched over a piano and Joe playing guitar by a small table lamp. They played the intro to Safe Passage, and then THAT noise dropped for like a couple of seconds, before the trailer was over. I was hooked immediately. I played that teaser over and over and over, as loud as I could, sometimes laughing maniacally because of the sheer audacity of using such an in-your-face sound.
When I finally got to hear the complete song, I just fell in love. It was hard not to just listen to it first when the album finally arrived, but I’m glad I didn’t, as its place on the album just enhances the experience. Wild Light, to me, seems like quite a sad album. There are moments on it where happiness does find its place, but most of them don’t last long and seem to get overpowered by the general sadness of the songs. Safe Passage then makes a defiant stance, by proclaiming to find happiness and not letting any other emotions drag it down. It’s the first and only song on the album to acknowledge the entire spectrum of emotions, while finally beating the struggle to get those emotions under control once again.
I truly hope that for some people, this song can provide an actual safe passage, whether it be from feeling awful to feeling better again, or from this place to another.

The entire list, once more:

  1. Massive Star at the End of its Burning Cycle (B-Sides & Rarities, Volume 1: ‘…Then We Take Japan’)
    24. PX3 (Heavy Sky EP)
    23. Await Rescue (One Time for All Time)
    22. Thrash Waltz (Stumble.Stop.Repeat EP)
    21. Pillars of Frost (No Man’s Sky: Music for an Infinite Universe)
    20. AOD (Stumble.Stop.Repeat EP)
    19. Dance Parties [Mechanised] (The Distant and Mechanised Glow of Eastern European Dance Parties EP)
    18. Unmake the Wild Light (Wild Light)
    17. Fix the Sky a Little (The Fall of Math)
    16. Heat Death Infinity Splitter (Wild Light)
    15. Debutante (We Were Exploding Anyway)
    14. The Conspiracy of Seeds (The Destruction of Small Ideas)
    13. Hole (The Fall of Math)
    12. The Undertow (Wild Light)
    11. Monolith (No Man’s Sky: Music for an Infinite Universe)
    10. Taipei (Wild Light)
    9. I Swallowed Hard, Like I Understood (The Fall of Math)
    8. These Things You Can’t Unlearn (The Destruction of Small Ideas)
    7. Go Complex (We Were Exploding Anyway)
    6. Supermoon (No Man’s Sky: Music for an Infinite Universe)
    5. Crash Tactics (We Were Exploding Anyway)
    4. Retreat! Retreat! (The Fall of Math)
    3. Radio Protector (One Time for All Time)
    2. Tiger Girl (We Were Exploding Anyway)
    1. Safe Passage (Wild Light)

Featured albums:
B-Sides and Rarities, Volume 1: ‘…Then We Take Japan’ (1 song)
Heavy Sky EP (1 song)
The Distant and Mechanised Glow of Eastern European Dance Parties EP (1 song)
Stumble.Stop.Repeat EP (2 songs)
One Time for All Time (2 songs)
The Destruction of Small Ideas (2 songs)
No Man’s Sky: Music for an Infinite Universe (3 songs)
The Fall of Math (4 songs)
We Were Exploding Anyway (4 songs)
Wild Light (5 songs)

What do you think of the list? Agree, disagree? Join the conversation on our facebook-page and in the 65kids-group! Thanks for reading!

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