I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the album Mind Bomb by the band The The, marking a seminal period in late 80s music. Before the days of useless Johnny Marr (ex-Smiths guitar player) solo projects, he played hypnotic and reverberating guitar notes upon the poetic verse of Matt Johnson whose image on the album cover probably grabbed my attention, at the time, through its close resemblance to Alva/Madrid skateboarder Bill Danforth.
Essentially the songs on Mind Bomb are about selling out, meaningful sexual encounters, the failures of ideological politics, and other ways of blurring the lines between certainty and uncertainty. Sinead O’Connor makes a brief appearance on the song “Kingdom of Rain.” When she sings “My hearts beating out of time with my mind, and I know somethings going wrong in our lives” I’m thinking back to that last line in Fritz Lang’s silent film Metropolis (1927): “the mediator between brain and hands must be the heart“; but I’m also thinking of the narrative of youthful love grown awry and redundant that infects the Sinead O’Connor/Matt Johnson duet in “Kingdom of Rain”, like the collapsing together of song and memory.
In effect, listening to The The’s Mind Bomb two decades after its initial release is like going back to church.