Margate’s Dan Lyons and the Tenants share video for ‘Golden Handshake’.

Words: Ingrid Marie Jensen | Photo: Lou Smith

“A teacher here recently gave a vocabulary test in which she asked her students to provide the antonym of youth. Over half the class answered death.”

– Truman Capote, “Hollywood”

A “nice, good old fashion rock ‘n’ roll band from southeast England,” Dan Lyons and the Tenants have one previous album (2020’s ‘SubSuburia’) under their belts, with a sophomore effort entitled ‘Shuttered Dreams’, coming this fall. ‘Golden Handshake,’ released August 25th on Shaker Records, is the third single from the upcoming album. The band have a remarkable aptitude for distilling truths that might take an entire novel to unpack into a neat three-minute ballad that’s infinitely more memorable than a 300-page literary work. Their songwriting smacks of an earlier vintage; it’s a refreshing blast from the past in terms of structure, if you, like me, occasionally miss the presence of a linear narrative.

The lyrics of ‘Golden Handshake,’ recount the perils of stardom, presenting it as a sort of Midas-touch condition; the magical sealed deal, that catapults you from one strata of existence to another, without due preparation or guidance. It culminates in the sort of tragedy that should be expectable and preventable by this point in human affairs, but, like love and death, fame doesn’t obey the laws of time or sense. The track has the folksy rawness that comes with honest lyrics, and Lyons’ clear vocals ring out with a plaintive nasal edge that melds perfectly to the sinuous, lilting vocals provided by Asha Lorenz of Sorry, who guest stars on the track.

The music video features Lyons in pasty pale makeup and a funereal black suit, a fedora pulled low over his brow. He presents a sense of alienation and isolation akin to David Bowie’s alien character in the 1976 movie The Man Who Fell to Earth, or the silent film star Buster Keaton in just about anything. (It’s worth noting that Bowie studied Keaton’s movements and methodology.) He’s a washed-up, washed-out idol of the silver screen not adapted well to Technicolor chaos, lost in a brave new world of digitized money and no Marilyn Monroe–he repeatedly pulls a snapshot of Monroe out of his billfold, presenting it to strangers, desperately inquiring after her whereabouts. When finally informed of her passing, he drops stone dead of shock.

When they set out to film the video, the group didn’t realize that this year marks the 60th anniversary of Monroe’s tragic death. They noted that all sorts of “peculiar things,” happened during the shoot, creating an “accidental homage.” A little supernatural backup never hurt anybody – and it happens more often than you might think. I like Joyce Carol Oates’ novel Blonde a lot, but personally I think ‘Golden Handshake,’ is even better… Have a listen and decide for yourself.