Happy Sunday, bibliophiles!
It appears that my way of telling the world that I’m very done with winter, thank you very much, is by making brighter and brighter color schemes for these posts. The songs aren’t *all* necessarily happy, but hopefully a handful will bring some warmth to you into these chilly times. Bring on Spring already, huh?
Enjoy this week’s songs!
SUNDAY SONGS: 2/12/23
You know those movie/TV scenes where the protagonist sees somebody from across the bus/train station, and then the bus/train/insert vehicle of your choosing passes by, and the person mysteriously disappears by the time the protagonist looks back?
Yeah, that. Sort of. Maybe a bit artsier. Not to dunk on the Sam Raimi Spiderman movies, my beloveds (except for this one, I still haven’t seen it), but I can’t think of an artsier example. More in line with the feel of the song.
My roundabout point is that this is how “Bicycle” makes me feel—I could either be the mysterious person who disappears behind the train, or the onlooker watching them from across the tracks. I can practically feel the beret, peacoat, and plaid scarf descend upon me, walking through puddles in high-heeled boots as the mysterious person from across the station vanishes…
As much as I adore St. Vincent’s shreddier side, I always feel a little nostalgic for her earlier, art-pop days when I hear songs like this. I didn’t even know it existed until I saw it hidden in her earlier singles, apparently a b-side to “Actor Out of Work” that never made it onto Actor and sort of faded into the background of her catalogue. And even though it fits more of the impressionistic forays of Marry Me, it’s a crime that this song doesn’t get any attention. With a slow build from a collage of light woodwinds and pianos, it feels like a watercolor painting of a city in the rain. Annie Clark’s voice, which rocks like gentle waves as she muses about a stolen bicycle and a pair of tennis shoes, creates an atmospheric painting of a song. The point at about the 2:36 mark where the background steps into a different key, practically feels like levitation. It’s a beautiful song, and it’s a crime that it took me this long to find. Either way, what matters is that I have the chance to listen to it now, and I’m already starting to listen to it nonstop until I’m sick of it. I doubt I’ll get sick of it.
I found out about Wednesday completely on a whim while glancing at an article about NPR’S 2023 artists to watch. I came around to this song, and just like that, I’ve got another few albums added to my never-ending hydra of a list of albums I need to listen to. One song was all I needed to get hooked; Karly Hartzman’s vocals have a likably nasally quality to them, lingering in the quiet, guitar-plucked first minutes of the song, then soaring to the point of exhaustion as the guitars explode into fuzz once more. “Cody’s Only” is a song that keeps you on your toes: you think it’s just another quiet, sadgirl indie song for the first thirty seconds, but as soon as the heavy guitars and percussion kick in, you’re blown out of your seat. I’ve only listened to a handful of their songs now, but they remind me a little of Snail Mail, maybe with a bit of Horsegirl mixed in, but I’m sure that I’ll be hooked on at least a few more of their songs. I don’t want to get my hopes up too too high, but I might be a fan…
“Hello Sunshine” – Super Furry Animals
And you thought I was done with Super Furry Animals for the week? Gotta keep you on your toes somehow…
I already talked a bit about the Wendy & Bonnie sample at the beginning of this song last week, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk more about this song, especially with how much I’ve been listening to it lately. Despite how much said sample creeped me out, it’s a song I remember fondly from my childhood, and it still retains that signature joy to this day. Paired with the music video and its cheery, pseudo-pegasus creatures, it’s a song that brought sunshine into some of the freezing days of the past few weeks. After the distorted sample fades out, it launches into a perfect package of Britpop joy. It’s not as loud, explosive, or experimental as some of their other hits, but it’s pure comfort. Listening to it feels like you’re in the strange, animated world of the music video, bright, cartoony, and filled with…well, sunshine. It’s a song that’s begging for the hopeful end credits of a movie, and it’s a song that never fails to fill my heart with a little warmth in these cold months.
“These Days” (Nico/Jackson Browne cover) – St. Vincent
Another St. Vincent song that I had no idea existed until recently…I’ve given up all shame in doubling up on artists on these posts now. I am forcing you to listen to St. Vincent singles ca. 2008-2009.
You can’t deny how somber this song is (and Jackson Browne apparently wrote it at 16? never ceases to amaze me), but there’s some kind of intangible hope that Annie Clark’s take brings to it. This was one of the first singles she ever released as St. Vincent, a b-side of “Jesus Saves, I Spend,” and it’s hard to think of a better cover to go along with the art-pop sensibilities of Marry Me. The more delicate side of both Annie Clark’s airy voice and her intricate guitar playing suit this song; maybe it’s this that gives this version more hope: there’s a hidden brightness in her instrumentation, wistful, but not quite sunk in sadness. Clark might as well be a sort of musical, more positive King Midas—every cover she touches turns to gold, and even if it was already gold, she makes it shine even more.
(…except for that cover of “Funkytown.” We don’t talk about Funkytown.)
“Main Titles” (from Only Murders in the Building) – Siddhartha Khosla
We’re ending on a happy note, trust me. Short and sweet.
I’ve recently started blowing through Only Murders in the Building (NO SPOILERS, I STILL HAVEN’T FINISHED SEASON 2), and it’s easily the most delightful show I’ve watched in ages. And given that the premise surrounds a true crime podcast and an actual murder, that’s saying something. But then you throw in two eccentric old guys and an equally eccentric Selena Gomez, an old apartment building in New York City, and some weird shenanigans involving a cat, and it’s instantly the most comforting murder show you will ever watch. And it’s almost enough for me to forgive Cara Delevigne for getting on my nerves so much, and that’s saying something.
Key word there is almost. The bar is in the Mariana Trench.
But one of my favorite parts of the whole show, the very thing that shouldn’t have a whole lot to do with the content of the story itself, is the opening credits:
I could go on for days about how wonderful the animation is, but half of what makes it shine is the background music. Even though it’s short enough for YouTube to constitute is as a Short™️ (and definitely not Trying To Capitalize Off Of The Success Of TikTok™️), it perfectly encapsulates the mood of the entire show; it’s all played in a minor key, giving it the slightest bit of a sinister air, but the combination of the strings, choir, brass, and the delightful little chime at the very end give it a strangely cozy, warm feel. It almost has the feel of some of the work Danny Elfman has done for Tim Burton (I know that doesn’t narrow it down at all, but hear me out); there’s an air of spooky around it, but there’s an undeniable whimsy that carries the entire song. A good theme song is hard to find in the days of the “skip intro” button (and anybody who skips this intro deserves jail time, I don’t make the rules), but this is an instantly memorable one.
Since this whole post consists of songs, consider all of them to be today’s song.
That’s it for this week’s Sunday Songs! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves.