Track By Tracks: A Permanent Shadow - No Leaf Clover (2024)


My mom got pregnant again when I was eight years old, but my father did not want any more children, so she had an abortion. This song is a fantasy about my imaginary brother. I have a sister who I love dearly, but in this song, I imagine what life with a brother would be like. Could we have been in a band together? Would he have gone to become a banker or a sailor? I guess we’ll never know. Musically speaking, we nicked a riff from The Tragically Hip for this one.


This is a song in the vein of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” It talks about political disenchantment and how politicians make it their mission to win elections by bluntly lying to your face, and once they have won, they cannot seem to remember one single promise they made. Although it has an angry lyric, it is the most upbeat track on the album.


We often are waiting for something to happen instead of making it happen. This song can be seen as a call to action and a note to yourself to not let yourself get intimidated by other people’s achievements. I like Future Islands a lot and how their sound harks back to the Eighties but sounds very current. We tried to achieve some of that on this one.


I read Judy Garland’s biography and was flabbergasted about how she was exploited by her parents at such an early age. She was given amphetamines to get through various performances a night, which of course set her on a path of substance abuse and trauma. No wonder she did not make it to her fifties. The Honky Tonk piano is meant to reflect the late evenings in smoky bars.


This song is a continuation of its predecessor in which I talk about the general phenomenon of child stars and how it must affect them once they stop being adored and stop being a cash cow for their managers. From the outside, it looks like a lottery win when people become successful at an early age, but on the inside, it must be the exact opposite. We tried to recreate the harsh environment with a fierce guitar sound.


And here comes the final part of this uncomfortable trilogy. Guess who Micky, Gary, Jimmy, and Ian are and what they have in common. A cue: they are either dead or in jail… This is the most danceable track on the record, which is a huge contradiction. But we love contradictions.


Now this one has a strange origin. A friend of mine broke up with this girlfriend, and she sent him a long email in which she pretended to forgive him for all his trespasses, listing them one by one. It made for a hilarious read which was too good not to be used as a song lyric. I wanted something with an aggressive guitar sound to represent the hostility of the conversation.


In “Money to Burn” we find a person who is tired of his life, someone estranged from himself, lost on a path he does not enjoy. No money, nothing to look forward to, no emotions. This happens to a lot of older people who are disenchanted with life or have the feeling their best years are behind them, and are fading away little by little. By writing about these kinds of situations I remind myself that I will do the utmost not to end up in one of them!


This is a song about mercenaries in the Yugoslavian war of the early Nineties. I, unfortunately, remember it too well and recently came across an interesting documentary about warfare that explained how exemplary atrocities caused a mass exodus in rural Bosnia and other areas. It is about the Yugoslavian war but could be about any violent clash of cultures and religions. As the bridge says, “It’s history repeating, it seems we never learn.” Indeed. Musically, we tried to crossbreed Talking Heads with LCD Soundsystem.

10. HELP U:

It is funny how some people try to manipulate you into thinking that you are worth nothing and then offer their “help” to get you out of the supposed rut you’re in. The mantra-like lyrics of the song sum up this intent of deprecation. I like this song a lot as it is the least conventional on the album and features a beautiful piano solo as well as some interesting sitar moments.


“No Leaf Clover” is an up-tempo record, and this is the only ballad on it. It seemed a good idea to me to close the album with a slower and sonically reconciliation song. “Bubbles” is a song of hope where despite the daily grind, boring routine, and collective apathy we’ll always find some humanity, goodwill and care in other people’s actions. It is a positive ending to a rather bleak record with a lovely sea- shanty chorus.

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