A very special Christmas with Natalie Pryce: Track-by-track
Glasgow 'jazz noir' collective Natalie Pryce have put together a unique Christmas record – the band talk us through the EP track-by track, and share some of their favourite anti-Christmas anthems
The sound of Glasgow five-piece Natalie Pryce blends elements of jazz, punk and blues together into a dark, abrasive whole. Now the collective – Mark Swan, Greg Taylor, Steven Litts, Roisin Murray and Stephen Coleman – have turned their attention towards Christmas, with their a very special Christmas with Natalie Pryce EP described as a "Kafkaesque Christmas horror". It's packed with humour, anger, big riffs, and lyrics about socks; put simply, there's a lot to unpack.
Luckily, the band have shared their very own track-by-track guide to the record, and they've also provided a short playlist of some of their favourite anti-Christmas tracks which you can read below. For the full Natalie Pryce Christmas experience, catch the band at Broadcast on Fri 16 Dec – details here – but for now, put your headphones on, grab a bottle of Bailey's, and dive into a world of wild, heavy, nihilistic Christmas bangers.
a very special Christmas with Natalie Pryce, track-by-track
"The work night out is already surreal. For those that work for companies whose CEO or owner they’ve never met, it may be the one time of the year to see who your colleagues really are. Not the cold-smiled, dead-eyed professionals you see 260 days a year: the unhinged, broken and completely unique human beings we all are when we’re not being forced to commit acts we wouldn’t dream of if money weren’t involved. The work night out isn’t just relief from tedium – for some it is an opportunity for open attack on the notion of company policy. This song is about what happens if it goes too far…"
"One of the most narcissistic songs ever written. The idea of having paralysing anxiety about not knowing what to buy your loved one for Christmas is like a psychopathic admission that your status is more important than their joy. Yet this song is strangely relatable to many. We should be able to answer the question 'what would you want?' based on the fact that we love them.
"The problem is that they are so complicated and inconsistent (all of us). We should go easier on each other and not expect our partners to be able to know us completely (because we are all changing all the time anyway). Tell them exactly what you want… please."
"This song was written as a commission for the soundtrack to an animated short film about an evil Santa Claus with the head of a bull terrier. The film is yet to come out, this is the song for the opening titles.
"The recording features our new analogue synth. This is a temperamental beast. It never plays the same sound twice. It goes out of tune if there are subtle changes in room temperature. Sometimes only the black keys work and every song must be in F#. It weighs a tonne. And I absolutely love it."
"This song is the scream of the internal voice that good taste should never let out. It is about the pain and indignant rage at opening a present from someone you thought knew you and loved you and finding yet another pair of socks. This is infuriating because before it was open this gift had the potential of being anything: a present that somehow captured the essence of who you are and exactly how you want to be seen. But no. It’s just socks. Again. Is that all I am to you? Is that what you think I am?"
Natalie Pryce's anti-Christmas playlist
Wild Billy Childish & The Musicians Of The British Empire – Poundland Christmas
"As far as I am concerned Billy Childish is the king of the Christmas song. This is a track from his album, Christmas 1979 recorded with his band at the time, The Musicians of the British Empire. This song (and the whole album) pull off that amazing trick of being both critical and celebratory of this great season of contradictions. The thrill of buying and receiving presents while also aware of the cheap ephemeral nature of these gifts. Who cares about what they got last Christmas?"
The Fall – (We Wish You) A Protein Christmas
"Mark E Smith writes songs on pretty much every subject, from time travel to football to Christmas. This song has a great dreamy, murky feel to it but also has that rare thing not seen in many a Fall song: it’s strangely sweet. Mark E Smith has a completely unique voice in music, he is instantly recognisable and everything he sings becomes his own. Honourable mentions for other Fall Christmas crackers include No Xmas for John Quays, Xmas With Simon and their version of Hark the Herald Angels Sing."
Alan Vega – No More Christmas Blues
"One half of the incandescent synth-punk band Suicide, Alan Vega’s solo career has some real treasures (check out the Cubist Blues album). Alan Vega is one of my favourite singers, his voice is equal parts seductive and terrifying. In a world where many holiday-based songs are nothing more than a cheap cash-in that often leads to the artist selling out some of their credibility, Alan Vega creates something as mysterious, dark and sexy as any of his greatest work."
Sparks – Thank God It’s Not Christmas
"From the 1974 album Kimono My House, it sounds every bit as fresh and immediate today. Some songs are so good they never age. It’s a cliché but I honestly don’t know why this isn’t a massive hit. Every bit as catchy and fun as anything by Cliff Richard or Wham but with a wry sarcasm and barely disguised contempt for the conventional. The song is about the misery of having to stay at home and be a family man for Christmas. This is a perfect anti-Christmas song."
The Knife – Reindeer
"The story of a reindeer’s difficult job on Christmas Eve ferrying Mr Santa round the world. It should be funny but it’s actually strangely moving. The power of the music always takes me on a journey with that little reindeer. There is a real feeling of danger about the whole thing. This song captures the shift from childhood and buying into the world of magic, to the grim adult world and realisation that Santa is fictional and your parents are liars."
Morphine – Sexy Christmas Baby Mine
"There is no one else like Morphine. Part garage rock'n'roll, part smooth jazz. This song must be one of the more miserable Christmas songs ever written. To write a Christmas song at all is a bold move: to make that Christmas song a dark, slow woe-fest is absolutely daring. Morphine have never been a band for easy, upbeat hits. The sound on this track comes through like a sleazy midnight phone call. This is the woozy, drunken sound of a Christmas alone in a Premier Inn."
a very special Christmas with Natalie Pryce is out now on download and limited edition pink cassette via Ptarmigan Records. Natalie Pryce play Broadcast on 16 Dec; more info here