Your and my introduction to The Constellations is Afterparty and Back In Atlanta, two songs that trawl this US band’s Georgia hometown for inspiration and anecdote.
Back In Atlanta is a sonic trip through the sights and scenarios of the town in question. It’s got funk. It’s got soul. Think Mark Ronson’s remake of The Smiths’ Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This Before and you’re in the right ball park. The overall atmosphere of the track is “good times!” and as such it’s an effective disguise in which to describe the less salubrious elements of city life in the same breath as appreciating the beauty of a shining urban skyline. Despite the hardship that blights the city, as it does all cities, “I won’t ever want to leave, no, you can bury me in Atlanta”.
En masse handclaps and bootstomps open Afterparty as a warning of what’s to come. An exhalation of breath segues into the initial hi-hat hit and together they create the “aaah” and hiss of a seasoned party goer cracking open his first can of the evening. Anyone familiar with Randy Newman’s Mama Told Me Not To Come will recognise the decadence and debauchery on show in this song. It’s a raucous affair chronicling all manner of characters and shenanigans that can make the post gig experience “no party… no, no fun at all”.
Afterparty blazes a trail of upright piano tinkling (the spit ‘n sawdust bar kind) and fuzzy, overdriven bass behind a claustrophobic wash of organ sounds. Add to this the sparse, tight Charlie Watts-on-speed drums and rapid, vivid lyrics and it’s a heady concoction indeed. When the multitude of voices has chimed in on the chorus in unison for the final time, the party’s over. The song has its desired effect – as is The Constellations’ intention, you feel glad you weren’t invited to this party.
Back In Atlanta and Afterparty are taken from The Constellations’ second album Do It For Free, out now on iTunes: