Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Elevating Trick

Of Montreal is squeezing a lot of listeners onto benches that were never really that empty in the first place. It's a crowded band-wagon, this. Every song on the band's new release is a twinkling single, and my favourite among them—well, for now—is "The Party's Crashing Us". The music rolls out quickly and without fuss, firm drumbeats folding up stray pieces of paper on the burgundy carpet. The singer's voice branches out confidently, his arms swing wide and he's bending at the waist, about to step out from his corner into the full crush of the party. He's been hurt by that woman over there, of course, but he's not in retreat. He'll be fine, give him time, listen: "Oh, we MADE LOVE like a pair of black WIZards," he recalls sonorously, stretching out the louder bits, and he's having fun with it now. There'll be no icing him down. The rhythm is always there, clear-sounding like it would have felt to walk in France in the 80's or maybe even New England, all fresh pale blue and strolling quickly between the birch trees. But then the chorus opens the door on a room full of afternoon light-like-piano-keys and fresh-looking people hold green fauxtinis, everyone playing their parts with zest. Remember Paul Hogan in the party scene in "Crocodile Dundee", the first movie? Hogan country-waltzes around the room like a teenager, charms everyone in sight, and inadvertently ruins the snuffly coke-head's high by showing him how to steam what Hogan thinks is a powder for the common cold. Something about the mix of the innocent and the jaded in that scene reminds me of this song, the rhythm of the music and fearlessness of the singer somewhat at odds with the lyrical content. This contrast provides a fresh elevation for the listener, sure, yet this song is for people who find their own highs, who've already learned the elevating trick. And just when you think the music is winding up, the spacy synth trails back into the piano and far-off voices, there's the quick splatter of drums and the chorus swirls back down out of the cool spring sky like a song for Saint Cecilia's Day.

"When Nature underneath a heap/ Of jarring atoms lay,/ And could not heave her head,/ The tuneful Voice was heard from high:/ 'Arise, ye more than dead!'"

Reading: The Shadow of the Wind + Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Listening: The Sunlandic Twins + Of Montreal

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