Hearing that Bill Callahan has a new album out will always fill me with a quiet joy. I’ve been a big fan since the days of Knock Knock, a good decade and a bit ago. The new one – cheerily titled “Apocalypse” – is out on the 16th April, and he’s been good enough to release an MP3 of the second track, “Baby’s Breath”.
As always, his songs take a few times to get stuck in your craw, to drill under your skin like a particularly unpleasant parasite, laying its horrendous cargo of eggs. “Baby’s Breath” meanders around for a while, then undergoes a quite disconcerting change of tempo. Imagine you’re walking down the street and you pass a strange-looking man, who is gently shuffling along, apparently minding his own business and oblivious to the wider world around him.
Then, a moment after you pass, he suddenly picks up pace and before you know it, he’s alongside you, whispering basso profundo into your ear about “Reaping what you sow”. You are not entirely sure what he means, but you know, just know that it’s something very, very bad, and you wish you didn’t have to know more, but you will.
That is what this song does. It is, frankly, utterly disconcerting.
Ah, Bill, it’s good to have you back.