The Kills–Wait

I’ve no particular affection for The Kills, but their song Wait is so expertly used in Children of Men that the scene actually gives me nostalgia for a thing that never was.  Not just a throwaway background piece, the track is beamed through the radio, introduced by a DJ as a glance back to 2003.  That’s three years before the film was released and twenty-four before it takes place.  There’s a simplicity to the song that instantly makes it feel vintage.  It’s little more than a strummed guitar, Alison Mosshart’s surprisingly restrained vocals and a boom-chick drum beat.  It’s gentle and confessional, but still decidedly rock and roll.  While I wouldn’t say it sounds like it could be from any era, it certainly doesn’t feel rooted in the early aughts, owing a great debt to the The Velvet Underground.  It was a savvy pick for the scene.  Few songs from that period would be able to immediately conjure a yearning for it while still plausibly feeling retro just a few years after their release.  The uncomplicated nature of the song also speaks to what it means to the characters: it would have come out at a time in their lives that now must seem deeply uncomplicated.  The clean, pure composition embodies that.  It’s not on the radio because it’s one of the best songs from 2003, but rather because it’s formal elements transport the listeners, both the characters and the viewers, to a lost, longed-for era.

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