I want you to enter the proverbial time machine with me. I want you to hear things as you did in the early 90’s. You were less cynical. You listened to songs without judging them within the first twenty-seven seconds. Remember that?
You listened to “alternative rock.” Sometimes you heard a new band on a local college radio station and you got really excited about going out and buying the compact disc.
Are you there with me yet? You are? Good. Now, Adam Ant’s “Wonderful” is definitively, and perhaps to its detriment, sincere—it’s a love song. But here’s the thing. It is so perfect in that jangly alt-rock early 90’s vibe. I could imagine the Cure releasing it on the Wish album. I could imagine a contemporary band like Grizzly Bear covering it, slowing it down, adding more harmonies, perhaps a weird angular guitar progression and it’s a damn right poignant.
Adam Ant was known for being a New Romantic, not a hopeless romantic. Yet in this song, when I first heard it, I felt somewhat moved by its simplicity. And I also admired the weird duality of its radio appeal despite an underlying quirk. “Wonderful” came up on my iPod shuffle this morning and I was reminded that no matter how my taste has changed (or hasn’t) I will also consider it an underrated gem.
This is the songwriter Thomas Mars, frontman of the super famous French rock institution Phoenix, explaining the intense thought process for the band’s new album title, and also how he thinks very hard about his lyrics. Aren’t the French adorable?