(Special Insert) Two Door Cinema Club – What You Know/Cigarettes In The Theatre/Eat That Up, It’s Good For You
Technically, these songs were released well prior to 2011, but it was this year that these tunes hit home, and what a fun, manic, dance-crazy home it turned out to be. “What You Know” is one of the best songs of the past few years, period. The bassline is fantastic and frenetic, chasing itself around like a dog to its tail with no end in sight, at peace with its jangly disposition. Alex Trimble’s guitar riff is amazingly sunny and energetic, like a red dot to the bassline’s cat. “What You Know” is an unbelievably catchy song. “Cigarettes in The Theatre”, the album opener, might even have a more frantic guitar riff than “What You Know”, and it’s no less hypnotic. Trimble sings “tell me your favourite things, tell me your favourite things” with the gusto of a 7-year-old on a serious sugar high. The sound of a song on speed. The sound of a band calling your attention. The sound of pure, musical vigour. “Eat That Up, It’s Good For You” is also rife with energy, but it’s…different. Accompanying its pleasant demeanour is a kind of sadness, inasmuch as TDCC can be sad (not very). From 2:19 to 3:08, the musical high point of the album, an explosion (that any terrorist group worth its salt would be proud of) blasts away everything around it. It’s more than just three guys pouring pure energy into a song, it’s melody giving birth to a star, shedding light onto a revolving planet whose atmosphere is birthing never-before-seen elements. Unbelievable debut effort.
10. Active Child – Hanging On
What a heart-wrenching marvel “Hanging On” is. Sounding like a moribund mendicant, Pat Grossi pleas, “I just can’t keep hangin’ on…to you and me”. The harp has never augmented such pain. And yet, amidst this deeply personal and painful poem, the song can’t help but ooze sexuality. This song is the sound of a stranger coming across a heart-broken lover, leery and left for dead, preying on said shell’s vulnerability, inviting it back to a loft and making love to it, passionate day after day, until neither body resembles that which came before. Intensely private yet profound in its nudity, “Hanging On” is as breathtaking as it is broken, lovely as it is unbearable, captivating as it is nihilistic. Draining, but who needs to be whole. What’s the point?
9. Beirut – Goshen
“You’re on in five, it’s time you rise or fade”. Fading was never an option for Zach Condon. He’s a bad, bad man, having released some of the best music of the past ten years, but he’s never sounded so personal and challenging as he does on “Goshen”. It’s a revelation. “Goshen’s” allure is twofold: part hyaline, fragile beauty; part diamond-solid pep talk. The first 1:23 of the song is buoyed solely by Zach’s voice and a piano (as simple an opening as I can recall on any Beirut song to date), and it couldn’t be more commanding if it were written on stone a tablet. When the brass and rolling snare come in, they’re understated and supportive of the tone, mindful not to distract the melody from carrying Condon to heights not of this atmosphere. “Goshen” winkles my heart out of its torso and pilfers my heart, only to drape it in a cottony blanket, ammend its previous debilitation, and return it with the utmost care. A simple surgery. A needed liturgy. Faith in sound.
8. M83 – Raconte Moi Une Histoire
“Raconte-Moi Une Histoire” is the best representation of the incredibly ambitious double album, Hurry Up, We’re Waiting, and most all, M83 itself. I’m adjective-starved to describe its wonder, but nevertheless, I will try. The sweetest song of the year (by far). The most adventurous. The silliest. The most whimsical. The truest. The song coruscates with a beauty hitherto unexplored by M83. There are no boundaries on “Raconte-Moi Une Histoire”. Not a single one.
Such is the crux of M83. The band doesn’t operate within the boundaries of musical ingenuity and imagination that almost all other bands do; there is a freedom, a life energy, that Anthony Gonzalez possesses that other people and artists just don’t. That’s why he can get a six-year-old girl to sing about hallucinogenic frogs, mommies becoming daddies, and cupcakes, while not having the song become a parody of itself. This wide-eyed sentimentality is contagious and courageous.
The girl’s saccharine voice is the song’s heart; Anthony Gonzales’ wailing cries are the blood; the bassline is the engine; the synths are the wings. This is Anthony Gonzales’ story. Tell me yours.
7. Gotye f. Kimbra – Somebody That I Used To Know
“Somebody That I Used To Know” castigates a bygone lover, but does it in hushed, dulcet tones (at least in the first part of the song), making the sentiment even more vitriolic. There is nothing dilatory about the melody. There’s a prancing mischief to the song. Gotye’s vocal plays perfectly off of Kimbra’s. One of those rare instances where a simple concept/melody/tune connects effortlessly with those who come in contact with it. A delicate powerhouse. A seductive duet.
6. Yellowcard – Hang You Up
To simplify the process and call “Hang You Up” emo is shamefully reductive and does the song a massive disservice. It’s quite simply the best song Yellowcard have ever done. Having clearly grown up since the days of “Ocean Avenue” and “Only One”, Yellowcard have shifted their focus from the unrequited love and bleeding-heart passions of youth, choosing now to magnify feelings of nostalgia, regret, the past. My how they wear that sentience well. This song is the sound of graduation. Of reverie. Of a certain callousness that haunts the shadow of the aging. It’s the sound of time, gone, and back again, irrevocably different.