Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Everybody's Song

Interviewer: "How would you describe The Great Destroyer?"

Alan Sparhawk: "The new album is desperate. No. It's bitter... I'm tired of hiding it. Life is too short. If something is ripping you apart, you've got to let it out. You've got to let yourself say it and not feel like everybody is going to look at you like you're uncool because you fall down and start screaming about something that doesn't make any sense."

If there has been a more thrilling and surprising first-listen moment in Low's discography than that opening feebacksquealguitarrise of "Everybody's Song," I'm forgetting it. That's kind of what I got caught up with the first few times I listened to the album - the joy in noise coursing through the track, Alan and Mimi wailing out "nobody does it better!" over a track that sounded like "Canada" set free. But of course

Every day they torture us they torture us they torture us
And say nothing stays together

Breaking everybody's heart
Taking everyone apart
Breaking everybody's heart
Singing everybody's song

I personally think Low's strongest work has only really come once Alan decided to just let it all out, but that doesn't mean I'm going to make the last few records sound like uncomplicated fun times. "Everybody's Song" is thrilling because it's so vital, so alive, but it's alive with anger and frustration and pain (if there is a more queasily undercutting moment in Low's catalog than Alan's later question over squealing feedback, "Father why did I become / The angry son / The angry one," then again I'm forgetting it). There are demons here. You can't even say they're being exorcised, not really.

But it's got one of my favourite Mimi drum beats ever (that deadened clang on every second beat, the constant ride cymbal - it's awesome), the way the arrangement flows and shifts throughout the verses, the overdriven chorus - this is still probably Low's most successful full on rock song. At the time it was also surprising; earlier Low albums had been dark and disquieting, but never this raging. And we're not talking about the band's sound.

[Interview segment courtesy of PopMatters]


Inverarity said...

"Everybody's Song" and "Step." They're songs... let me put it this way. When Dylan was writing "Positively 4th Street" and "Like a Rolling Stone" and the rest at his high tide of invective, John Cale and some of his friends told him that he'd better be careful, or some crazy was going to key right into those songs, and when he or she did, well, watch out. (Shades of Mark David Chapman.)

I don't see it in Dylan's stuff, myself, but that's the kind of song these are. I'm not a crazy - well, not that kind, anyway - but these songs unlock irrational lizard brain responses that probably shouldn't be loosed.

Ian said...

Ha! Great Cale tidbit there. I hadn't heard of that, but I think it fits well here... "Just Stand Back" as well, possibly?

Inverarity said...

Yeah, that too. And "On the Edge of" as well. Horrible, cancerous, irresistible stuff.

Ian said...

Is Drums and Guns really better in that respect though? Or just less aggressive about it?

(which only makes it more vicious, in my opinion)

Inverarity said...

For all the arrangement weirdness, I think Drums and Guns has a lot of continuity with Destroyer, but only "Always Fade" and "Your Poison" connect with me in the same way as TGD's quartet of evil. D&G still connects viscerally, but it also connects more on a rational level than TGD does.

I'm not sure that's true. But there's a fundamental difference between the two, even if I can't really put my finger on it.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean?