This album and band brings out my innermost old codger (which isn’t nearly as inner as it should be), because it has me telling days-of-yore stories about what music geeks once had to do in order to find out about new tunes: read Billboard magazine.
That’s right, even towards the end of the internet-booming ’90s, many of us stuck to our old-school methods of poring through Billboard – still at the book store, of course, since it was prohibitively expensive to subscribe to the damn thing – and looked for the albums or singles that received the highly coveted star of approval. One day in early 1998, I stumbled upon a band called Blink, an Irish band that sparked “Next U2” Bidding War #296,435,071. The write-up for The End Is High, the band’s second album, must have contained some Medsker-friendly buzz words (“New Order,” most likely), and I went straight out and bought a copy.
Now, I’m not saying that The End Is High didn’t deserve a star…okay, that’s exactly what I’m saying. In retrospect, it probably should have gotten a circle. The album definitely had its good points; it satisfied my New Order fix at a time when Barney & co. hadn’t recorded an album in five years, and Blink’s band-out-of-time approach was rather charming. But singer Dermot Lambert’s voice was even reedier than Barney’s, if that’s possible, and the album was clearly self-produced. U2 could sleep soundly. They band could sure bring it live, though; I saw them on some package tour with, I think, Matchbox Twenty or someone else equally mismatched, and they were fab. I even tried to buy Dermot a beer afterwards, but he already had one. We talked about Blur, as we were both big fans, but he had to get in the van for their next gig.
One song from the album, however, still gets the odd spin here and there, and that is “The Girl with the Backward Skin.” Nice backward cymbal intro, great quiet-LOUD opening and a powerful, climbing guitar line after the verses, not to mention a nifty false ending. “Always…” rat-tat-tat-tat-tat BOOM. Good stuff, which in 1998 was not easy to come by.