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Baker's Dozen

Shields Against The World: Mat Osman's Baker's Dozen
Luke Turner , May 10th, 2023 08:40

From growing up on The Carpenters to reconnecting with music in his "wilderness years" Suede bassist turned novelist Mat Osman takes Luke Turner through his Baker's Dozen of favourite recordings


Momus – ‘Bishonen’

I love him as a lyricist as much as anything. He always comes at things from a strange angle that was always really interesting to us. There's that track, ‘Righthand Heart’, which is about someone’s heart being on the wrong side of their body, and the way he turns it into this huge metaphor about love and life is really brilliant. There’s a reluctance to engage with the mainstream that I really like. He goes in these directions that you would never go in unless they obsessed you, he's never done anything that could be a career move. In fact, the exact opposite. Everything's anti-career with him. I love the Tender Pervert record, especially ‘A Complete History Of Sexual Jealousy’, this low rent Pet Shop Boys music but bleeding heart, tragic, terrifying lyrics. It's such a weird combination. But ‘Bishonen’ is something entirely different. It's the story of a man who brings up his son as a Japanese warrior and sends him out into the world with a retainer to live as a Samurai. It’s about how badly it goes wrong and how he ends up working in a merchant bank. There are very few single songs that you can make a movie from, but this you could and it would be brilliant. There's a line in there that I wanted to use as a dedication at the beginning of a book: “his words were to cut down and to kill the muscle bound, his swords were for his intellectual enemies”. There’s so many ideas like that going on in the song that spark things in me. Every time I listen to it I want to go away and write afterwards.