To hear Suicide’s Frankie Teardrop for the first time is to experience a birth and a death simultaneously. It is the death of all your musical expectations and the birth of a whole new understanding of the way art can embody your emotions. The song is also the perfect marriage of Martin Rev’s and Alan Vega’s strengths. The soundscape created by Rev is bleak, foreboding and minimal. The vocal contribution by Vega is sadistic, unhinged and confrontational. It provided a taste of the aggressive, antagonistic live performances that would define the early years of the band. It’s a track largely of droning, thumping, shrieking and screaming: primitive and primal, but also nascent and somehow edifying. It’s terrifying, not just because of the way it sounds, but because it perfectly captures what we’ve all felt inside in our darkest moments. “We’re all Frankie,” says Vega at the end. It’s no joke. It’s not a political statement. It’s just the truth.
If you’ve read this far, you get a bit of a bonus story today. I used to work at a fairly large store that let us play whatever music we wanted. It should be known that it was neither a music store, nor a place that catered to a hip crowd. Run of the mill people would come in to buy run of the mill things. On desperate, boring days, I would throw on Suicide and see how far I could get into Frankie Teardrop before someone would stop cold in their tracks, horrified and ask, “What is this?!” You could put on almost anything and fail to get a reaction from customers, but Suicide struck a chord every time.