Song of the day: DROP NINETEENS – Kick The Tragedy (1992)

“I think it was the first time I realized I could change the world, or at least change the way my sister hit the clock on every tick just to see what would happen. The time was really flowing by I guess and it’s hard to think of the way it might have been or remember really specifically the words and all the rest of it. I was down, more than I’ll ever be probably, that has more to do with it altogether. Like the orange trees in the backyard and it’s Easter and it just won’t end. Fucking Phil, he’s off on his board somewhere and I’m just sitting here getting more and more lost with everything. That is the thing about it, it’s not as if a cousin had promised something and taken it away. It was like nobody could share my so-called dreams which really meant none of it was happening. And that reach around midnight left just about that, nothing. There’s not anything particular about it either and I think that the whole thing gets vaguer every second. But I am too and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s even funny when I stop and realize I’m just nineteen, how serious can anything be anyway? Not very.”

The bored, confused, slightly depressed ramblings of a teenaged girl, voiced by Paula Kelley, appear six minutes into this song. And every time they do, I feel some kind of melancholic nostalgia for the time I was a bored, confused and slightly depressed teenaged boy. Not that we had orange trees in our backyard.

The Drop Nineteens were one of those late eighties / early nineties college rock bands who took their cues from The Beat Happening and their ilk, on the one hand, and nascent British indie on the other. They were responsible for a B list classic single in “Winona”, and a patchy album called Delaware. By the time they released their second effort, National Coma, the line-up had altered radically, and the music had degenerated into fifth rate corporate indie pop. They are largely forgotten, but deserve to be remembered for “Kick The Tragedy”, their finest nine minutes.

It starts with a My Bloody Valentine-esque two chord, minor key guitar riff. And then continues with it. It sounds big, and gets bigger, but keeps repeating the same two chords. After around two minutes you’re thinking “is this going to change?” After four: “are they taking the piss or what?” And yet there is something hypnotic about it. When it finally breaks for Kelley’s monologue, it’s real lump-in-the-throat time. She finishes, there is a brief pause for reflection, and then they’re off again until the end of the song. On paper it sounds tedious, but it isn’t at all.

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I like the cover, too. There’s a kind of damaged innocence about it.

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6 responses to “Song of the day: DROP NINETEENS – Kick The Tragedy (1992)

  1. Great review. One thing I would have added though is the finger swipe across the strings at 5:05. It says something about a two chord song that listening to it without a clock I can predict when that will happen (it’s almost punctuation). My other favourite moment you also mentioned, which is the silence in the pause after the drums slowly tick off, and the anticipation builds for them all to end the track.

    • As I was listening while writing my comment below, I did what I always do at 5:05, slide my had in the air as if gliding along the frets, making that “fret scratch” sound. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one that waits for it in anticipation with each listen. Hope all is well in your world. :)

  2. this was an awesome review, i love the brief silence after the singing a lot. Also, the intro just sounds so creamy and thick, i love it

  3. I worked in a record store (Sound Warehouse, Arlington, TX) when this album came out. I would put it on during after-hours cleanup and wait patiently for track 4 to roll around. Listening for that fret scratch at the 5-minute mark that would cue me to the fact that the monologue was near. This track is still, 25+ years later, one of my favorites. One of only 4 tracks I’ve found in my 48+ years to be “flawless”. The dreamy chord/instrument layering and the fact that it (like The Cure’s ‘The Same Deep Water as You’) is 9+ minutes of unbroken melancholy, is pure bliss. It’s nice to know that others in the world cherish it as I do.

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