Argonaut – Save

Posted: 1 May 2023 in Singles and EPs
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

1st May 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

Argonaut are a band who have certainly embraced the potentials of the Internet, making the most of the ability to take ownership of their release schedule and optimising the possibilities for their DIY aesthetic, not limited to home recordings released within a week via Bandcamp and no-fi videos posted to YouTube.

Nathan and Lorna kept things flowing through lockdown with their homespun ‘Videostore’ project, and now they’ve reconvened, the band are making the absolute most of the limitless options of streaming formats.

Historically, an album had to be no more than around forty-five minutes to fit on a 33rpm record: CDs expanded it to seventy-two minutes, which was probably the length of most double albums, only much cheaper. Tapes provided greater duration but less durability, especially over longer formats: the old C120s were dangerously fine, meaning double-play cassettes were things to be handled with care (as the three copies of The Cure’s Concert and Curiosity I lost proved, although however carefully you might handle a cassette, the heads on your tape deck just stropped and chewed stuff out of spite). More recently, CD capacity has expanded to eighty minutes. Every medium has its limitations: digital streaming has limits to quality and you never know if a track or site will remain, and streaming when your Internet connection drops every three minutes is a massive pain the fucking arse. And it perhaps goes without saying that downloading a track just doesn’t have the same buzz as owning something physical like a 7” or even a CD. That’s something that’s difficult to explain to anyone under thirty, who considers physical ‘stuff’ just so much clutter and the prospect of going to a shop an inconvenience. I get it, but I guess it’s hard to feel you’re missing out on something you’ve never experienced.

But what Argonaut have realised is that an album doesn’t have to be a completed article on release, and this is where their latest project is really interesting. Songs from the Black Hat is probably the first ‘open-ended’ album, whereby they just keep adding songs to it with a new song released on the first of each month. Whereas The Wedding Present’s ‘Hit Parade’ project also saw the release of a new single each month, it had a fixed end, on the premise of there being a 7” single released each month – the album, a compilation, was seemingly an afterthought and its parameters were always going to be finite. Songs from the Black Hat as it stands has no parameters, and ‘Save’ is the sixth song and something of a departure, not just in terms of the album, but for Argonaut more broadly.

They’ve built a career on punchy post-punk tunes which are often concise to the sub-three-minute mark. But as they write of ‘Save’, ‘Clocking in at six and a half minutes, ‘Save’ is Argonaut chanelling [sic] nineties indie anthem 12 inch remixes a la MBV and the Telescopes.’ And it is indeed a beast. As they also explain, ‘The lyrics were inspired by the Thai cave rescue and a genuine primary school comprehension test answer to the question ‘why didn’t Grace Darling save everyone at the same time?’

It’s a reverb-soaked behemoth where the echoing drums soon become overtaken by a chubby bass and a yawning synth drone, with multi-layered bubble-gum pop vocals, reminding us that ‘You can’t save everyone’. No doubt our government will be playing this at the airport in Sudan as they turn away citizens with work visas and the like but no physical passport. But facetiousness aside, this is a beautiful and sad song that also bursts with fuzz and reverb, and spins vintage and contemporary together with a rare deftness of craft.

Let’s see what they pull out of the hat next month…



  1. […] Reviewed here recently, ‘Save’ is May’s song from Argonaut’s ‘open-ended’ album, Songs from the Black Hat. […]

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