Sarah Cracknell – Coastal Town
When I moved to the seaside in 2008 one of the first thoughts I had, aside from “what the hell am I doing?” was “ooh, now I can listen to one of my favourite ever songs in its natural setting.”
The place was Brighton (it turned out to be a brilliant move) and the song was Coastal Town by Sarah Cracknell. My walk to work took me along the seafront from Sussex Square to Brighton Pier – a glorious commute by any standards – and scarcely a morning went by where I didn’t listen to this and have a private moment of joy that only the combination of amazing pop and fresh sea air can provide.
Coastal Town is a pop song built for the bus shelter, by which I mean it’s great to listen to while lurking in one waiting for a shower to pass. If you time it so that the chorus kicks in just as the sun starts to emerge from behind a cloud it’s a bit like being in your own pop video (this also works in cities, where I now like to play a game of “time the song so that the bus/tube doors open when the chorus begins” – requires unashamed lip-syncing).
The polar opposite of Every Day is Like Sunday (“Goodbye dark sky and the slow trains that roll by”) this song fizzes with happiness and optimism – this is the coastal town you can be glad they didn’t close down, where your brightest star and best friend lives. Interestingly, though this version dates from 1997, Sarah and Morrissey‘s songs are close contemporaries. Coastal Town first appeared ten years earlier as the flip side of her solo single Love Is All You Need, in a considerably more indie and ramshackle – but no less delightful – form. Purists may prefer the original, but I adore the walloping great pop sheen it was given for inclusion on the Lipslide album.
One of my favourite things about Coastal Town is a blink and you’ll miss it part right at the start – as the synths roll in and you realise you’re in for a big pop production, you can hear, tucked away, the sound of a recorder, cautiously playing its own little melody like a child in the back row of a school orchestra would. It’s a wonderful little moment of innocence that suits the record perfectly, and links it nicely to its 1987 incarnation. It also has one of pop’s very best breakdowns at 2:28, where you get sixteen glorious seconds of bass-line, rippling synths and ad-libs before the piano hook crashes back in for a valedictory lap around the chorus to finish.
I eventually moved to London and my morning commute became a very different thing indeed. But for me Coastal Town will always sound like Brighton, and to quote directly – “It sounds like…eternity.”
Entered chart: was not released
Who could sing this today and have a hit? Close your eyes and throw a dart at a random pop star – they could have a hit. But let’s give it to someone who does live by the sea – Adele.