MIDNIGHT SUN, CHIMERA MUSIC
My favourite thing about Sean Lennon’s latest album, Midnight Sun, is how he gives himself into romanticism and creates from this fantasy place that can hardly exist. It’s a refreshing break from the stringent honesty that otherwise faces us today in popular music: no one can escape the intense acceleration of the proliferation of imagery and that keeps us honest, too honest. Art can’t breathe if the air is too honest. In McLuhan’s terms, the Internet, our phones, Snapchat, Kik, Twitter, Instagram, Tinder, that deplorable monster, Facebook, allow us to see with clearer eyes than ever before, allow us to speak in plainer tones than ever before — fantasy only exists for as long as we all hold it together, for as long as we can pry ourselves away from every bit of knowledge that’s ever been scraped from human history, instantly available. The moment someone breaks from the pack to check Wikipedia or link to a scientific abstract (the full peer-reviewed paper is behind a paywall, but no one really has time to read beyond the abstract, anyway), the mirage collapses under its own weight and we’re left standing in a desert devoid of signs. Under the relentless pressure to perform in our moments of intimacy, the door to the bedroom now an ancient symbol of divides that no longer make sense, we have no choice but to be honest with ourselves, to overtly create and recreate ourselves every day, with every selfie, in every ironic Twitter hashtag or poorly Photoshopped Facebook cover photo of Justin Bieber on Drake’s blue skies. We may wink when we create, in an effort to generate the distance that desire so completely craves, but we create nonetheless and that selfie that you took this morning as a goofy throwaway is the most direct form of self-pleasure available today.
Following in the footsteps of Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson, Sean Lennon loves his muse, British model and artist Charlotte Kemp Muhl, with the sort of reverence that was once reserved for Brigitte Bardot, an impossible beauty that exists only in our collective imagination, a sexual icon that defined our relationships with ourselves and each other; Muhl is Lennon’s Lolita, the direction and focus of his own desire. Together, Muhl and Lennon form the Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, commonly known as the GOASTT, and they traverse their own desires to create the playful psychedelia that defines Midnight Sun. Sure, we can all detect the Beatles’ influence coursing through Lennon’s veins, we can all imagine that he picked up an avant-garde move or two from his mother growing up, but Midnight Sun doesn’t feel like an album written by the son of perhaps the most famous and influential musician of the 20th century. It’s free and unfettered, a journey to India that didn’t unfold into cynicism and mysticism; it’s unusual and worldly without being shitty about it; it’s escapist in a way that you wish you could be, if only you, too, could be escapist.
By Sebastian Buzzalino