Big Deal – Chair (Mute Records single, 2011)


mute artists | 7″/i mute459 | 05/09/2011

The sleeve to Big Deal‘s ‘Chair’, which was bizarrely released on the same day as the album Lights Out, features a portrait of a cat wearing a dunce’s hat. To me this looks distinctly like a sleeve that belongs in the Butthole Surfers / Blast First camp, but the hat at least serves as a decent reference point for the lyrics of this song – the bit about being put on a chair in the corner anyway. I can’t explain the cat. Unless where the lyrics refer to not being able to sit on the other person’s bed, KC Underwood and Alice Costelloe are actually singing about a cat. Who knows?

‘Chair’ sounds like a possible mid-point between thrashy punk and the classic rhythm guitar-driven rock ‘n roll of Buddy Holly. It’s quirky, confused, angsty teen-rock / pop, generally delivered in a cheerful style, although the torrents of over-amped guitar distortion threaten to destroy that mood. The generally polite way that the two voices overlap suggest a breeziness and lightness, but the lyrics seem to convey a sense of hurt, disappointment and distrust. It’s curt, intense, but rather beautiful.

Beautiful is also how I would describe the languid, pastoral blues guitars of B-side ‘Buzz Money’. ‘Does your mom still pack your lunch?‘ runs the enquiring lyric, anchoring this to hazy school days and problem-free innocence. ‘Someday I’m gonna pack your lunch for you,‘ is the retort, an odd but quintessentially youthful way of expressing love for a fellow kid. It feels like a fragment of a conversation turned into lyrics. I again feel like I’m too old to listen to this, but I get where this lovely little song is coming from. I think.


On Mothers Day 2013, I tweeted that I couldn’t think of any songs in the Mute Records back catalogue that were about mothers. Big Deal immediately tweeted back ‘you can’t get a song more about mother’s [sic] than this?’ and copied in a link to a YouTube non-video of ‘Lunch Money’, which appears to be a renamed ‘Buzz Money’. As I am re-posting this on Mothers Day 2014, I thought I’d include that. This post is for caring, lunch-preparing mothers everywhere.

Track listing:

A. / 1. Chair
B. / 2. Buzz Money

First published 2011; edited 2014

(c) 2014 Mat Smith / Documentary Evidence

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