Body Exit Mind is one of my top 10 albums in general, but it’s also one of only a handful of albums that when I listen to it I prefer to listen to it as an actual album: sequentially and in its entirety. Body Exit Mind is in turns contemplative, energetic, hopeful, and nihilistic. It is a 57 minute, 15 song meditation on consumerism, the global spread of American corporatism, and the emotional detachment that dogs modern life circa 1992.
That all sounds pretty fucking heavy for some second wave ‘Madchester’ Britpop, but this is not a collection of ham-fisted screeds. No, it feels like a late night, mid-twenties conversation where everyone is a little drunk and a little high and every word means something, man. These songs are heavy with the fruit of knowledge. Of course, there are no answers. There never are in pop music, but we always think there might be, don’t we? So we hit repeat and keep listening.
Two decades on I keep listening to Body Exit Mind because I know someday I will find answers buried in here. Until then, at the very least, it never fails to put me in a better, slightly less pessimistic mood. For me part of the emotional lift garnered by Body Exit Mind is down to the lush production. It manages to not sound overproduced or too slick. It’s a sonic cocoon that wraps around your head waiting for your mind to transform.
The third track “Stockholm” best encompasses the feel of Body Exit Mind. The song alternates between quasi-spoken verses and soaring vocal choruses. Its lyrics randomly drift into my head more than any other on the album. “You’ll soon be dust, your deeds already are/You saw no orb no fiery bushes either/I must be drunk I feel unsteady, ah ha/No monster me, sadly, no saint either.” [See what I mean about inscrutable truth?] Give “Stockholm” a quick listen and you will be a convert.
Addendum: Wherein I wax Matt Pinfield-esque even more so about the album…It was an odd, delayed journey to my adoration for this album. Body Exit Mind was released in 1992, but it never came into my universe until sometime in ’97 when I was the music director for my college’s radio station. I was in NYC to interview a band [Squatweiler] playing a gig at a club [Brownies] neither of which exist today. The Mute Records college radio PR dude told me to head to their office before the show to hang out. He loaded me up with a bunch of back catalog CDs, got me stoned, and sent me on my way.
There was a lot of music in that stack of CDs and a fair amount of albums got a couple of listens and were either passed on to friends or sold at used CD shops after I moved to Boston a year later. I never really gave Body Exit Mind a proper listen until one of my “sell or keep” CD culls. Once I finally sat down and let this album unravel it felt world changing, but on my very small and personal scale. It hit like the first time you say, “I love you” to your crush. It’s a tectonic occurrence, but only in your microcosmic universe. I still feel that every time I listen to Body Exit Mind and it continues to perplex me how it has lasted for 20 years.