How seeing bands like Superorganism can extend your life.
News just to hand: my live music habit is helping me live longer. According to new research done for the British music venue owner O2, just 20 minutes of a concert will boost my well-being by a whopping 21%. This compares with just 10% for yoga (the mat can keep gathering dust behind the telly) and 7% for dog-walking (sorry, Cooper).
Patrick Fagan, an expert in behavioural science at Goldsmiths, University of London, has assigned me an extra nine years of life, then, though it’s not clear whether he’s taken into account the gin and beer that usually go hand-in-hand with gig-going. And it’s debatable whether I should take as gospel research commissioned by a company whose venue “has welcomed over 60 million visitors and sold 20 million tickets since opening in 2007”. But there’s no doubt this pop science goes to the nub of why so many of us are so besotted with soundtracking our lives: it just makes us feel better.
Plenty of hard research finds a link between music and healthy brain function: a meta-analysis of 400 studies in 2013 looked at the effects of everything from drumming circles and community choirs to the use of music-based treatments to reduce pre-surgery anxiety and concluded that “the evidence for the beneficial effects of music on reward, motivation, pleasure, stress, arousal, immunity, and social affiliation is mounting”. But you don’t need science to detect the hairs rising on the back of your neck when you hear an old favourite on the radio or come across a new band.
My most recent dose of joy-boosting discovery was watching Superorganism on Later … With Jools Holland and realising that although they were billed as “a conglomeration of international folk who met on the internet”,
I was watching a new permutation of Wellington-born indie pop-rock oddsters the Eversons.
Now decamped to a shared house in London, the Kiwis have made some attention-grabbing additions, including 17-year-old former fan Orono Noguchi as frontwoman and a growing number of globe-spanning bandmates, and they’re making real waves with their peculiar brand of wonderfully warped, geek-chic bubblegum pop.
Their habit of cutting and pasting gleeful sounds – giggling babies, splashing
water, cash register pings, marvellously manipulated recordings of self-help guru Tony Robbins – into playground beats and then letting Noguchi’s bored-child delivery glue the whole thing together create a musical equivalent to a kid’s glittery scrapbook.
On their new self-titled album, such songs as It’s All Good, Everybody Wants to
You don’t need science to detect the hairs rising on the back of your neck when you come across a new band.
be Famous, The Prawn Song and Nobody Cares have a cartoonish effect: it’s okay to smile at the lines “I know you think I’m a psychopath/A Democrat lurking in the dark”.
Maybe that’s the secret those researchers are trying to winkle out of studies into the effects of listening to music: those smiles are really the special sauce that’s helping us live longer. SUPERORGANISM, Superorganism (Domino)
Above and below, Superorganism:
warped bubblegum pop.