I listened to Suede’s debut album last night, at about 3am, and all of a sudden I was 13 again. I don’t understand how that works, but I think everyone knows it does. Music is the flux capacitor of sensory experience; there is nothing like it for evoking place and time. If I ever hear a snatch of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ I remember immediately sitting by the side of my bed, looking at a catalogue of goblin and ork figures, wondering if I’ll ever actually stir up enough interest to buy some. Whenever I hear ‘This Charming Man’ I remember hearing it for the first time, on a Smiths ‘Best of’ CD borrowed from my cousin by my older brother. I didn’t have a clue who they were, but from hearing that first jangling bar my life probably went in a slight but detectably different direction than if it had been say, ‘A Kind of Magic’ by Queen that kept me awake at night as it played on repeat in the next room.
But memory is a funny thing, it is compiled from sense, and so when you close your eyes and the reminiscence of a different place and time is complete, you might as well be 13 again and listening to ‘Metal Mickey’ because how else did you know you were there in the first place? You saw certain things, you were party to certain thoughts, you felt a certain way. If you feel like that again, even if it is a decade (yes a decade people) later, is that so different? Obviously there is a temptation to apply unrealistic hind-sight to things passed; it almost certainly wasn’t a simpler time, just everything that was complicated then has now faded and no longer matters. That the sensation of being 13 remains unchanged somewhere, installed in my synapses, linked inextricably with a 45 minute album of music sung by a bloke whose voice I now think of as distractingly theatrical, is probably a cause for celebration - nothing is going to waste.