Her Space Holiday
The Young Machines (Wichita)

It's about girls. But then you knew that.

Marc (with a C – honey, he’s an artist) Bianchi has been documenting neurotic, devotional Diaryland indie-love as Her Space Holiday since 1996. By 2000 he was co-leader of the then-underexposed emo scene, the methodical machine-loving micropop flipside to Conor Oberst’s (literally: check out the Her Space Holiday/Bright Eyes split single “The Doctor And The DJ”/”The Calendar Hung Itself”) ragged bleached-bone acoustic punk.

But things change – people change, hairstyles change; everything changes except the spectacles – they just get new rose-tinted lenses. And “The Young Machines” is revenge dressed up as sleepy-eyed, sweet-headed reason.

It's about girls. Some of them might even be real people.

“The Young Machines” is an annotated (with
suggested strategies, plans of action, movements and times and people and places – kind of like the kidnapper's How To Bury Someone Alive book in The Vanishing) diary of ex-girlfriends, friends’ girlfriends, girls in the park/on the TV/cinema screen/advertising board that Marc with a C would like to pseudo-spawn with.

Okay, so when Daniel Johnston does this we empathise because he is ‘ill’, because he has a ‘pure and childlike soul’, because we know that no one will ever want to be with Daniel in the same way that deep-down, in moments of supreme weakness, we suspect no one will ever want to be with us again – so why then when Marc Bianchi does this does it feel so much like psychic rape?

 

 

 

 



It’s in the way that his whole delivery and demeanour is monumentally contrived to fit the demographic of SENSITIVE YOUNG MALE ARTISTE: AVAILABLE (would prefer non-smoker, or girl who just puts cigarettes out on her arms). The way that his understanding and supportive words – luring pretty young girls back from the brink of suicide, from out of their abusive relationships with unfeeling men, from one kind of emotional dependency to an almost psychic-slavery (you will be my Edie Sedgwick, my Sylvia Plath… I will have my prescription painkiller-addled Winona trophy just like that platinum-bastard Adams) - just scan as skin-crawlingly slimey comeons that are about as subtle as Gareth from The Office declaring “If he goes in there [points to girl’s crotch], just make sure he wears a condom, yeah? Cos I don’t do sloppy seconds”, only less dignified (Marc does the sloppy seconds).

The way that, like Oberst, the conclusions to the most numbingly obvious, clichéd couplets is delivered deadpan with the gravity of glaciers - holding out on each closing word like its profundity would burn our brains if recited too quickly, or irreverently.

It’s in the way that his beautiful click and whirr baby ballads are drowned out by the noise of his own brittle ego (that feels about as comfortable as listening to broken and smashed teeth relentlessly grind themselves to stumps) feeding back on itself in excruciatingly condescending weblog poetry (don’t want to alienate the 17-year old internet Enids there) that is punctuated with toe-curling moments of self-awareness.



'You can’t make someone love you with a song' he sighs scornfully, recounting a bitchy aside - I’d imagine you can, actually – especially songs as pretty as these, full of swelling faux-strings and gently glitching soft pop and Marc with a C’s shy-but-smooth lullaby singing.

But who are you trying to seduce here? Little Red Riding Hood? Anne of Green Gables? These are not real women. These are ideas of ideas of women – fictions. The legacy of 50 years of pop song hate fucks channelled and condensed into a wretched, powerless Promethea.

An interchangeable everywoman whose role is the blank canvas, muse– something that needs to be saved from itself.





 


As the female protagonist in 'Japanese Gum', for example, explains (through Marc) - 'It’s not like I’m a slut or that I really like to fuck, I just want every boy I see to walk away with part of me/Until there’s nothing left to hold, until there’s nothing left to hate/I appreciate your help but even you can’t save me from myself.' Ew! It’s total indie porn. The most blatant emo cumshot since that Ghost World skinflick.

“My name is Marc with a C. My inspirations are Thora Birch, thick black-rimmed spectacles and Sylvia Plath. I am posting on makeoutclub.com because I like the missionary position and being dumped.”

And Plath was the biggest porn star of them all. With her head in the oven and Ted Hughes’ cock in her mouth (was he feeding her or making her gag? Or, to paraphrase Momus, simply drawing a funny milk moustache around her mouth? It was Hughes and her suicide that made Sylvia the helpfully untouchable, tragic, turned-to-dust pin up girl that she is) she became as immortal as Mary Magdalene or Linda Lovelace. In these songs it becomes evident that women have an inherent need to be saved, redeemed, cured (Lobotomized? Crucified? Burnt at the stake?) – reduced.

'Meet The Pressure' coldly documents a fictitious hater hack’s sister getting caught masturbating to HSH songs. Seriously – girls who fall for this shit are on a par with housewives who initiate correspondence romances with incarcerated serial rapists. You’re a disgrace to your gender.

That the same song is also an embarrassingly cunty shitlist of critics who have dared to take issue with Marc with a C’s (b)latent misogyny and cry-baby moping - including a sample of an answerphone message from one labelling him “a sensitive motherfucker” – highlights both the paper-thin skin of Bianchi’s resolve and his aggressively narrow-minded worldview – ie. he can forgive girls being mean to him because they are pretty and have boobs and meanness is, after all, a side-effect of their species, but writers being mean to him is wrong because he is an artist (“Who needs a pair of lungs when you just got a brand new pen?” - mee-OW).

It echoes Conor Oberst’s snarled aside on “Lifted, Or…” – '…and I NEVER… read… THE REVIEWS' - except, of course, Marc does read the reviews, devours them, admitting to circling the names of 'writers that I hope one day to meet'. Still, it’s not quite aggressive enough - 'Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind getting bad reviews/In fact sometimes they’re the only ones who try and speak the truth'.



That’s what I am doing, Marc with a C, I am a truthsayer and I say you need to toughen up. C’mon, Vincent Gallo wouldn’t take this shit! He’s the one who has indie girls (Polly Jean, Chloe… quite literally) hanging out of his pants, after all, and who allegedly drove across America just to beat up a critic who dared to poison his art with harsh words.

Vincent certainly wouldn’t have written a song like “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” (the ‘x’ is notable in its absence here, but then as far as Marc’s concerned, x’s means kisses), which has Bianchi in a tiz over 'the press' (who do you think you are? Victoria Beckham?) getting hold of the story of Marc’s girl dumping him for his best friend – possibly a reference to an NME piece which linked HSH keyboardist Keeley to labelmate, touring-partner and idiot savant Conor.

And truly it is in quandaries like this where you ask yourself – what would Vincent Gallo do? Look here Marc with a C, Conor is the fucking Harmony Korine to your Gallo. Neither of Oberst’s last two LP’s were a patch on 2000’s deliciously downbeat “Home Is Where You Hang Yourself” or the lonely software pop of 2001’s “Manic Expressive”, and what you’re going to do is record ‘Arienette’ (Conor’s imaginary girlfriend from “Fevers & Mirrors”) sucking you off and string it out into a bitter, brutal concept album – ala The Brown Bunny. Now that is art.

' Suck on my fingertips until you kill all my prints/So your boyfriend has no clue of how much I’ve been touching you' in 'Something To Do With My Hands' is more like it, but it’s a rare thrill of bitter ecstasy in a bucket of snuffly, sleepy, weepy lumpen lyrical opium (drug/girl addiction/dependency parallel metaphors are the other recurring trope of “The Young Machines”, but that’s a whole other demolition job).

Oh look, sobbing into stolen cardigans is so 2002. Don’t you know polysexual Numantronica is where the ladies (And, hey! Lady-boys) are at these days? You already have an aptitude for cold-eyed, beautiful as hell synthpop that is sleeker than a latexed middle-finger slipping into all the wrong places – swap those NHS specs for sunglasses at night and Marq with a Q could be the new electro-emo (Sigue Sigue) sputnik sweetheart.

It’s about girls. But then, isn’t everything?




WORDS: DAVID MCNAMEE


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