Bobby Gillespie and Jehnny Beth, two artists who I had no idea even knew of each other’s existence, are set to release a collaborative album, Utopian Ashes, on July 2nd. To preview the album, the unlikely duo has released an even-less likely breakup song, ‘Remember We Were Lovers’, as the first single.
The song reminds me a lot of those ’80s duet ballads where famous artists, one of whom was almost always Lionel Richie, would sing about boning and being madly in love with each other and/or falling apart, even though in real life none of that was a reality. Gillespie does his best ‘Endless Love’ impression, while Beth floats over the proceedings with a weirdly detached coolness. It’s a pretty interesting dynamic, made even more strangely awesome when a slide guitar solo comes out of nowhere.
“In the same way you create characters for a novel, we’ve created characters here,” says Jehnny Beth. “But you put yourself in it, because you’re trying to understand the human situation. The singing has to be authentic. That’s all that matters.”
“When you write a song you marry the personal with the fictional and make art,” adds Gillespie. “I was thinking about two people living alone, together but apart, existing and suffering in a psychic malaise, who plough on because of responsibilities and commitments. It’s about the impermanence of everything — an existential fact that everyone has to face at some point in their lives.”
It makes sense that both Gillespie and Beth would have time for a new project: Primal Scream haven’t released any new material since 2016’s Chaosmosis, while Beth has been focusing on solo work since her day job in Savages was put on hiatus in 2017.
Ultimately, the song is one of those big overdramatic takes on love gone wrong. I’m kind of a sucker for it, and I’m genuinely excited to see how these very different artistic personalities gel on an entire album.
Check out the brooding video for ‘Remember We Were Lovers’ down below. Utopian Ashes is set to be released on July 2nd.