Listen to this track by London-based orchestral retro-pop quintet Cousteau. It’s “The Last Good Day Of The Year”, probably their best-known track, and taken from their 1999 self-titled debut.
Some pop music is meant to be heard in the finest halls in the land, with the audience dressed to the nines, rather than in the standard t-shirt and jeans. If any band met this criteria, then in 1999 this band was surely one. Burt Bacharach, Scott Walker, and Jimmy Webb are the clear bright points in the musical sky by which Cousteau guided their creative ship. This was an important course for bands to explore by the end of the 1990s, with lushly realized production and arrangements that are cinematic in their scope. Maybe this was a case of twentieth century fin de siè·cle, with musicians and songwriters looking backward into the ages of pop’s past to revisit the sound of the century that was about to end.
Maybe that’s the main source of melancholy in this song, a tune that seemed to allude to an end of an era, for good or ill. Read more