Bodi Bill - I Like Holden Caulfield
Dan Round 20/05/2010
First of all, wishing to follow and practice the code of 'fair and balanced music journalism', I must confess to a preconceived prejudice with regards to this single. It woz the title wot dun it. You see, I hate Holden Caulfield. Hate him. I think he's a whiny little brat in a poxy little novel. And 'phony', too. Soo phony. All in all, a massively overrated read. Oh, and did I mention I think Caulfield is a right prick? And that Salinger's novel is all phony and completely overrated and all that kinda noise and humbug, hUMbUG, HUMBUG? Good...
Basically, to see a band declare in such an ostentatious statement - the title of the single for gawd's sake - that they like poor, alienated spoilt-kid Caulfield really fixed doubts, fundamental doubts, into my mind from the outset about the song I was due to lend my ears to. Would the single be just as banal as Caulfield himself? Just as tepid an affair as the novel? Would it leave the same feeling of crashing disappointment that “The Catcher…” left me? Could I like it…?
Answers: Yes; yes; yes; and… I'm sure I could have liked it - putting aside all saft, dogmatic “fundamental doubts” and whatnot for a good pop song - but as it happens, this single really isn't that great at all. At all.
“I Like Holden Caulfield” is not a new song. Berliners Bodi Bill - praised by the likes of Bloc Party [cue more “fundamental doubts”] and The Gossip […and some more] - originally released this slice of dark dance pop back in 2008 on their second record. However, the trio have instilled mighty faith in the song by also including it on their upcoming long-player “Two In One”, and - with beady eyes straying northwards from their continental club conquests - releasing it as a single in the UK. Such faith in the song is, quite frankly, rather bemusing.
Kick-started by sparse glitch plodding and a lone deep vocal, the attempt to craft a danceable, albeit dark clubby atmosphere barely manages to develop a great deal further. The moody, glitchy beats are left to simply throb along at the same pedestrian pace for four-minutes-something without going anywhere exciting or new or… well, anywhere at all, really. Lukewarm blips 'n' bleeps and the dense, static beats are coupled with underwhelming and equally annoying layered vocals, with the metronomic, chill-out electronica failing to progress past primordial techno tinkering. The slightly nonsensical lyrics are also just a bit cringey, and full of pretty naff attempts to create cryptic and abstract metaphors (“outside raging all those lovely stars”, “come shine your light onto these broken glasses”, etc...). The song comes to a sharp full-stop with the grating, Euro-club vocal of Fabian Fenk laddishly/cheesily declaring -“there's a door to your heart/and it's been there since you said 'let's start'/if there's a key to that door, too/ I swear we can find it in these parts”. Here, Fenk sounds like a gasping, sweaty, sexually depraved participant at the end of a hectic electro night at some huge, horribly pristine cosmopolitan club, engulfed in the sounds and lights of a big, bland, blank, colourless capital city.
From start to finish, you imagine this is the kind of song a trendy Berlin DJ with a pretentious pallet would lap up without any trouble. The problem is it's all a bit disjointed and rather dull as well, like the Caulfield character himself, ironically. This is electronic pop music at its coldest and most claustrophobic - insular and uninspired, it is completely devoid of emotion and, by the sounds of it, effort.
“I Like Holden Caulfield” fits nicely into the “Shit songs about Holden Caulfield” category then, alongside that one Green Day did when they were wee sprogs. Of the complimentary B-sides, “Tip Toe Walk” is a remix which is equally as disjointed and uninventive as the A-side and features further annoyingly fractured vocals, while “Very Special Small” signals a different, more organic direction with guitars and various other instruments accompanying the compulsory synths and laptops, but it too nevertheless passes without leaving any redemption or even a glimpse of confidence that they could be a successful indie-electronica crossover act. Based on their endeavours on this single, Bodi Bill are not worth investing a great deal of time in. Just like the novel this song is inspired by, then… did I mention how much I dislike “The Catcher in the Rye”…?
Release date: 17/05/2010