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Stereo Embers TRACK OF THE DAY – “No Horses” by Garbage

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To be blunt? Fuck, we just don’t know. What’s the most powerful piece of this? Which is to ask, what is most devastating? Is it the laconic, poignant opening, where singer Shirley Manson first pleads her case inside a veil of saintly – or is it angelic? – vulnerability as her male bandmates, not-so-subtly cast as the insidious villains of the tableau, dink about with a toy rocking horse, oblivious to the pure distaff distress emerging from the glow of the window a few paces away? Or is it soon after, when Manson almost off-handedly suggests, after washing the blood off her ministers’ feet while assuring us that they’ll “love you too,” they’ll “come to you,” even “worship you,” experiences the despairing realization that, as the horses first appear, the barefooted lords will “use you too,” “they’ll lie to you,” “they’ll steal from you,” “they’ll sell you too”? We think it might actually be when the ‘hell’ that is being sold us here breaks loose at the 1:53 mark, when the pace goes manic panic and Manson’s character begins to exhibit spastic twitches a la Exene in a paranoid episode well beyond anything imagined in Los Angeles‘s wildest nightmares. Whatever your choice – and trust us when we say that the potential candidates for ‘most powerful piece’ far exceed any offering by any track in recent memory (how about “And there will be no cops / only men with guns / in their shiny black uniforms / and their big black boots…with their fingers on the triggers” or, most unforgettably, Manson’s penultimate refrain “this is the apocalypse,” a chilling pronouncement that puts the bullshit front and center, plain and simple: there isn’t going to be some ‘big’ event but rather the slow accretion of lost rights and silenced voices that we are in danger of entering right this second), the amazing fact remains that a band best known for producing post-grunge gems of abstractly dystopian visions that seemed more than anything to suit their aesthetic (and no criticisms there, they were great at it) have suddenly appeared as the avatars of our most fevered fears, and they’ve done it with a no-holds-barred aplomb that should resonate throughout the right-thinking, compassionate cosmos. We are in danger, and we now have our own 1984 moment to help us realize that. This is real, and if we don’t keep realizing that fact pretty much every second of our existence, then we will indeed find ourselves in the middle of an apocalypse wondering ‘When did this happen?’

[all profits from the sale of this single will be donated to the International Committee of the Red Cross via iTunes here]