They might not be a big band to you but there was a time where Gameface were one of the hottest bands going in my record collection. It was the millennium year and I was living in a city without a car. I walked and cycled everywhere. Where ever I went my portable CD Walkman came with me. I had a flimsy denim jacket that could hold three or four jewel cases in its inside pocket on one side and the CD Player on the other. The first album I’d bought by this band was Always On. An urgent and intelligent pop punk album with a bit of Green Day, The Descendants and a smidge of a Jimmy Eat World kind of thing. After I’d played Always On to death I went to the local record store to see what else they had by ‘this band that only I seemed to know about’. Nobody had ever recommended them to me. I’d heard a track on a punk sampler and decided to take punt on them.
The album before the one I had was called Every Last Time. I worked it out looking at the dates on the CD there in the shop. The guy behind the counter couldn’t tell me anything about them. I was still a couple of years off having the internet at home at this stage. After putting my money down and stepping out of the store, I slipped the disc into the correct pocket of the jacket and headed off to the pub in the park.
Sweet Wreck is the second number on Every Last Time. That walk from Empire Records to the pub only took five minutes normally but I decided to lap the place when the emo percussive album opener The Pirate Song gave way to the punky thrash of the intro to Sweet Wreck is followed with an urgent delivery of a genius lyric. I don’t know if it was because the album sleeve displayed the discs run time on it right next to the title (all in lower case) gameface every last time 40:39. But I decided I’d spin the record first before going into the pub. I could use the exercise.
“Just because you like her voice, doesn’t mean she tells the truth”
That’s a great opening line. Sweet Wreck had my attention with that little moment alone.
“Trouble Doll that you can’t put down”
It triggered a memory from a few years previously…
I remembered coming across a terribly tragic character on a train one time. She was a girl who was whispering to a small sack of Trouble Dolls in the seat opposite mine while I eyed her suspiciously. Uninvited, she explained to me what was in the bag. She was talking to (and took out) tiny little woven effigies of various colourful characters. They all had names. I don’t recall any of them, or if they represented actual real people in any way. This was a train journey I made fairly regularly and I’d already seen this girl before. She stood out from the commuters as she was a bit of a state. All dreadlocks and hippy clothing. She had the nervous twitches of a heavy drug user and the eyes of a maniac. Never the less we struck up something resembling a friendship during our semi frequent train journeys together and I often asked after her bag of dolls, what they were working on for her etc while we went the 2-3 stops we shared together. She could tell you they were keeping things in order or that they were advising when to go home, when not to go home. That kind of thing. She avoided specifics. Not quite saying what, where or why her troubles were troubles. That meant it was easy to conclude she was imagining this stuff or just making it up. Tilting at windmills in her mind.
On what was to become the last time I saw her, she was distressed that she’d lost the bag. The Dolls were gone and she was somewhat concerned that without them she could no longer be sure they would keep the inevitable away from her. Nan (for that was the name she went by) even without her Dolls protection didn’t give a specific of what that trouble might be, it’s possible to assume all sorts of things. I couldn’t fairly say though, that wouldn’t be right.
This entire thing happened at least 5 years before moving to this city (that city, 20 years ago), shopping in that record store and buying this album. Trouble Dolls. I’d never even heard anyone else even mention the things as a concept. So listening to a band I’d never discussed with anyone reference a concept I was only aware of from a (sort of) friendship I’d never shared had happened with anyone else either. It felt very specific. Tailored specifically for me.
“Just because she needs someone, Doesn’t mean she’ll talk to you, Sweet wreck you can’t turn away”
The rest of the albums a corker too. But Sweet Wreck, it’s mine.