Thursday, November 05, 2009

My only desire

Some pop songs are just transcendent.

(Video/song match is not ideal, to say the least.)

It's probably an overused word, to be fair, and in and of itself it probably shouldn't be taken to mean anything other than a way to say "brilliant," maybe hinting at a touch of class and an ability to draw out a bit of emotion--I'd say make you feel above emotion, like you've shed emotion and are just sort of free-floating--but that's far too cold a description for songs like this.

Swedish duo the Attic, gone from the music scene for far too long without an indication of when they'll return, specialize in dance music with pop appeal. Over the course of one and a half albums, several unattached songs, and multiple remixes, they've helped create more than a few special moments, but "In Your Eyes," a single from 2005, still stands as the song that makes me want to throw around words like "transcendent" and "transporting" with no regard for technicalities, only for the feelings those words stir up.

A lot like the song, actually--on paper, the lyrics read as ridiculously clichéd, trite platitudes that must have been set to paper in the course of two to five minutes, depending on how quickly Michael Feiner and Eric Amarillo can write. Brought to musical life in "In Your Eyes," though, they manage to accomplish that sneaky pop trick of surpassing denotations and even connotations to become beautifully evocative. Evocative--another one of those wonderful flowery words we semi-lazy writers love to use to make our writing sound much deeper than it actually is; with a million possible shades and gradations of emotions to evoke, how is the unclarified word "evocative" supposed to mean anything?

Sometimes that lack of clarity is just what is called for as a descriptor, though. The Backstreet Boys' "I Want I That Way" is incredibly evocative, even though I've heard different people find different emotions and derive different storylines from its conflicting words. The songwriters even played with lyrics that give the song a much more logical throughline before eventually settling on the much less clear but much more evocative version we all know and love.

"In Your Eyes" is, in straightforward words, a synth-filled electronic song with an uptempo backing beat, midtempo topline, and second person lyrics about feeling at home and loved in "your" eyes. None of those words, though, captures the gentle reassurance and life- and love-affirming beauty of the song as well as so-called overused-to-the-point-of-meaningless words like "transcendent." At this point, it's practically a cliché to write about how clichés may be cliché but still have truth to them, but, like a series of ever-reflecting mirrors, I've got to say right back that redeeming the cliché may be cliché, but, every now and then, it's still needed. There's a reason we come back to certain words over and over again--they're the only real match for the beauty we find in some music.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be over here trying to figure out how to work "effervescent" into my next review...whether or not the song actually involves any emission of bubbles.

(This post is half-inspired by Chart Rigger's D'luv and Moogaboo reminding me how much I love All Saints' "Pure Shores." Talk about evocative--the word "dreampop" instantly captures the song better than a post of, oh, say, similar length to this one could.)

(Edit: see more about "Pure Shores" at J. Mensah's.)


John said...

Instant earworm, but wow, I was borderline offended by the video. Who thought that would be appropriate for this song? These sex-soaked European videos crack me up.

Nick said...

Despite being a year after its release, this song soundtracked my first trip to Sweden. Because of that, it will always be very special. Beautiful post. LOVE this song (and band in general).

Paul said...

I really need to spend more time with the attic. It's one of those groups that I know I like but haven't invested the time or money in getting to know them properly, if you know what I mean (like you and Erasure maybe?) :)

Poster Girl said...

I'm kind of over them as a trend at this point, though I don't expect they'll ever go away. It's a complete betrayal of the whole feel of the song, which is a real shame; it's better than that.

It's the songs that somehow manage to ingrain themselves in your mind as having an association with some particular moment that end up being what you return to year after year. My writing is still more falsely dressed up here than I'd like, but thank you!

Yes! I know exactly what you mean--you know you'd like them more if you just spent that time/money, but somehow it always slips out of your mind (or budget) to do so.