RIFFS / Paddy's perfect pop song: Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies on 'Appetite' by Prefab Sprout

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The Independent Culture
THE two types of song I admire are the really catchy ones and the really emotional ones, and this one is the perfect combination of both. Paddy McAloon has this lovely knack of injecting his pop songs with emotion and intellect, and 'Appetite' has some great lines. 'Here she is with two small problems, and the best part of the blame / Wishing she could call him Heartache, but it's not a boy's name.' He sings this one pretty straight, he doesn't go from a whisper to a scream as he does in some songs, and you get this great sense of a 'normal guy' using his voice as a tool to express himself.

The lyrics are sufficiently oblique to allow you to interpret them the way you like. I think it's a song about a man with a big libido, but he also has this sense that he's going to mess it all up if he goes after all he desires. 'And if you take, then put back good / And if you steal be Robin Hood / And if your eyes are wanting all you see / Then I think I'll name you after me / I think I'll call you Appetite.' It's like he's preaching, but a bit afraid of being unable to live up to his directions.

The melody's pretty simple here, but it's not the type where you think you've heard it before somewhere. It's the rhythm that's really amazing. The bass and the bass drum come in right at the start locked in this great groove; it's almost jagged. Sometimes I listen to McAloon's songs and I think, 'You're not supposed to write like that]' The production is really high quality, there are little stabs of guitar and synth in there that I didn't hear until the tenth listen. It's like that Beatles thing; Prefab Sprout had the repeating listener in mind.

'Appetite' is on Prefab Sprout's Steve McQueen album, Sony / Kitchenware CD 466392

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