Friday, June 1, 2012

Single Review: Me and My Drummer - You're A Runner

Single Rating: A
Every genre of music is filled with wonderful love songs:  we have screamo songs that describe that magical first kiss, we have techno songs that describe the terrific feeling of getting hitched, we have folk songs that describe that funny first time fornicating, we have rap songs that describe how finding that "perfect shawty" was more important than finding that "perfect ass and sheeit," and we probably even have a few love songs from the Germans.  It is easy to write the "falling in love" song because for the most part just about everyone wants or currently has some sort of love, the love song is pretty damn marketable, and the songwriter doesn't have to go to a "dark place" to think of a love song.

Because of just how many love songs exist, every love song has started to bore me to a certain extent. I am sick of the total fabricated and rehearsed lines about "him seeing it in her eyes," I am sick of every country song revolving around two minimally attractive people falling in love on some dirt road and singing about Jesus, I am sick of hearing all this crap about "doing it big," and I am sick of the the love songs talking about how couples had to overcome total made up situations.  The love song has turned into something formulaic instead of something genuine, something fabricated instead of something factual, and something rehearsed instead of something that actually feels anything close to "right."  I wanted something totally different from the love song: I want to explore the darkest depths of songwriting instead of rehashing the same three cliches over and over again, I wanted to feel the intoxication of a new idea and sound instead of hearing the same three chords sang by a different media made "artistic" machine, I wanted graves instead of flowers, I wanted funerals instead of weddings, and I wanted bewilderment instead of the same pitiful boredom.

I wanted the perfect suicide song.

The perfect suicide song sounds like something totally illogical.   How could an artist make the perfect suicide song without the song being far too depressing?  How could an artist make the perfect suicide song without sounding far to self effacing and selfish lyrically?  How could an artist make a suicide song that didn't have an overly soft or overly loud sound?  How could a songwriter take themselves to a "dark enough place" to do something that is as big of an injustice as suicide poetic justice?  The existence of the perfect suicide song was just about as illogical as committing suicide.

But Me and My Drummer's "You're A Runner" actually turns out to be the perfect suicide song: it covers every perspective of the suicide (the person trying to kill themselves, the family members, and the narrator herself), it has instrumentation that we can dance to and that still doesn't sound "out of place," and it is a very dark song that never sounds disingenuous.  The first reason this song is the perfect suicide song is because of how great the songwriting and the lyrics are.  The first thing songwriter Charlotte Brandi does is establish the possible reasons for the suicide in the most elegant yet simple ways possible ("is the high not high enough for you anymore, "crambled hopes of a failed career,"are the days not good enough for you anymore?")  then she established the ways that the person might be killing "herself" ("you're a runner," "you're a jumper," "swallowing those pills,"  she then establishes reasons why she shouldn't commit suicide ("there is love that nobody can deny, "beautiful souls,")  and then at the songs climax she makes an emotional and somewhat selfish plea with her friend not to commit suicide ("there are more hearts beating like your own, don't you dare to hurt mine.")  The lyrics of this song are perfect because they never seemed forced or overemotional yet they tell us a story in 205 seconds: they tell us of a woman who wanted to commit suicide because "the high wasn't high enough for her anymore" in her personal life, her drug life, or even her career, they tell of a woman who was going to kill herself in anyway possible (jumping, doing drugs, or even from running away so fast from her problems,) and she establishes the reasons why she shouldn't commit suicide ("more hearts beating like your own.")   Brandi songwriting and singing is so beautiful and elegant that it does something that is such a big injustice justice.  And that in itself is a major accomplishment.

The other reason "You're A Runner" is the perfect suicide song is the songs sound.  It is tough to describe the songs sound as anything less than unique: it has the energy of a song off Animal Collective Merriweather Post Pavillion, has the dancy feel of something that we would hear from Teen Daze, and it still has a rock feel.  The amazing thing about the song is that when you combine all of these sounds and unique influences is that it kind of just ends up sounding like a heartbeat.  So instead of the instrumentation complimenting the lyrics like in most great songs, the instrumentation in "You're A Runner" is also part of the lyrics: when Brandi talks about the ways her "friend" might kill herself the instrumentation is a reminder that her heart still has a chance to beat, when she describes why her friend might kill herself the instrumentation is a reminder that "it is all worth it," and when Brandi pleas with her friend the instrumentation matches the songwriting in a way that you rarely see in any type of music and almost never see in even the best love songs.  The instrumentation to "You're A Runner" makes it a suicide song that we can dance to, it mixes a lot of influences well, it makes a song about the horrors of death come to life, and it is one of the few songs where the instrumentation becomes part of the lyrics.

Over the summer you are going to hear a lot of annoying songs about first kisses, a lot of repetitive songs about falling in love, a lot of songs about getting hitched, and a lot of songs about that special "first time." But chances are you won't hear a song that gives you as much musical optimism as "You're A Runner"; it has great storytelling, beautiful lyrics, angelic singing, and breathtaking instrumentation.  It is a song about the horrors of death that gives you everything you need.  Even life.


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