#1089: 2012, Viv Albertine, Confessions of a Milf

by Jackie_South on January 31, 2017

Last weekend, the lads of All That’s Left went away for a weekend in the country. As well as drinking what the experts tell us is the safe amount of alcohol for a month over 36 hours, there was a lot of music.

One of my picks was this, my favourite find so far of 2017. Yes, I know I’m five years late, but I discovered it after reading Viv Albertine’s astonishingly brilliant and honest autobiography Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys. Albertine was the guitarist in The Slits, and wrote most of the songs, as well as friend and lover of a number of the male central figures of punk (Mick Jones wrote Train In Vain following their break up). If our weekend taught us the ills of alcohol excess, this book will tell you a thing or two about too much sex and drugs. (Public health announcement over…)

But after all the excess of the Seventies, it was the post-Slits story that was in turns heartbreaking and life-affirming. And it is the pain of her failed marriage and divorce is the them of Confessions of a Milf.

As a rule, I’m not a great fan of long songs: usually going much over 3 minutes is an indulgence. But this is a song that justifies every second of its 5 and a half minutes to tell its tale, taking us from a fairy tale picture of domestic idyll (sung falsetto and owing something to Russell Davies’ lyrics to Housewives’ Choice) to the reality of drudgery, difficulties with monogamy and break up, alternating between the falsetto and her own voice. As the song progresses (via a Neil Young reference), the conflict between the two voices steadily builds – “wife, wife, wife” clashing against “Life, Life, Life”, to an emotionally traumatic breakdown: there’s no place like home … don’t make me go home … don’t make me … don’t hate me…

It is the sound of the desire for creativity screaming to break through suffocating order.

It is an unabashedly personal song, mining lessons from her own life. For example:

“You could make the same mistake as my romantic mother
When she left her husband and ran off with a nutter.”

Followed by the whisper “… my dad…”

Utter genius.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ray_North January 31, 2017 at 11:07 am

Good stuff.
And thank you for reminding me about this song….

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: