My Top 1000 Songs #141: Map Ref. 41°N 93°W
Outdoor Miner" from the prior record, "Map Ref. 41°N 93°W" again establishes that, amidst the widely divergent styles traversed by the band's original 3-LP run, from raw punk to synth-driven experimentation, they can come up with an unexpected yet absolutely devastating pop hook, almost as if by magic. While much of 1979's 154, the final entry of that original studio triad, moved into darker, at times industrial terrain (while retaining the punk immediacy of its predecessors), "Map Ref." is a bouncy little ditty. Sure, the verses are a bit askew, as one would expect, though moving with a fun, percolating trot... but then the chorus kicks in.
Clearly they knew they'd landed on something remarkably catchy... they manage a few verses and instrumental breaks before finally, finally, Colin Newman helpfully announces "CHORUS!" to make sure we're ready. Like the rest of the song, the lyrics are cryptic, odd geographic references thrown together to which one can add our own personal meaning, but the soaring harmonies are so delightful you can't help but chime in. "Interrupting my train of thought, lines of longitude and latitude. Define, refine my altitude." What's it mean? Who knows? Who cares? It sounds great.Live in 1979:And some 32 years later:I kind dig My Bloody Valentine's noisy, gauzy shoegaze version from a Wire tribute album: