myTunes: ABC, Abel, Abigail, About a Girl

7 Apr

“ABC”, The Pipettes, We Are the Pipettes

Ah, The Pipettes. Three lovely British lasses who are trying to keep the fun Motown girl-group sound alive. I’m pretty sure I got this album through SwapTree (a really cool online trading post, I’m not sure what I traded for it though). The song has a nice propulsive drum beat and a bell part that doubles the guitar line, the guitar itself has some classic 60s reverb turned on. The throwback sound may turn some people off, though the production is distinctly modern. In this song, the girls sing about a bookworm that they just can’t seem to get any attention from. The whole song revolves around a pun (He knows about ABC, but he doesn’t care about XTC/ecstasy), and the rest of the lyrics are very simplistic also. Three stars.

“Abel”, The National, live recording

I only have a few scattered tracks from The National, but I’ve been meaning to track down their full albums once I have album-buying money again. I’m fairly certain that they aren’t the kind of band who drastically alter their songs in concert, and the quality of this recording is pretty good though I can’t make out the bulk of the lyrics over the guitar and drums. It’s an uptempo piece with a busy, arpeggiated guitar line and repetitive beat. The refrain is an unintelligible bark. There’s good energy, and I could see a crowd of people jumping up and down to it, but the bark just gets on my nerves. Two stars.

“Abigail, Belle of Kilronan”, The Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs II

This is only album I have by Stephen Merritt but I appreciate the man greatly. If there is anything in the musical world that I am a sucker for, it is the concept album. Firstly, it means that the artist intended people to listen to the entire album and didn’t just throw in a bunch of filler tracks around the two obvious singles. Second, it’s just silly fun. I’ve always intended that if I made any actual albums with my own songs, they would be conceptually based. All of The Magnetic Fields CDs have some sort of overarching theme, even if they are just a silly little thing like every song title starting with the letter I and being arranged in alphabetical order. 69 Love Songs was indeed three discs filled with nothing but love songs. Abigail starts right off the bat with a tambourine, a low-fi electric guitar, and Stephen’s distinctive reverb-drenched baritone. As the title would suggest, this is in the style of an Irish ballad, with wonderfully wistful lyrics such as “When I come home, if I come home, you’ll be a grown woman”. Within the last 30 seconds of the song, a cello springs up out of nowhere to bolster the repeated line “I’m off to the war but you can be sure, You’re what I know I’m fighting for”. It’s an example of how simplicity can still be stunning, and even Merritt’s deadpan vocal style can’t totally mask the emotion of the lines. Four stars.

“About a Girl”, Nirvana, Nirvana

I figured I should at least have the Nirvana greatest hits compilation for historical value. Grunge does nothing for me, it focuses too much on the ‘woe is me’ and ‘doesn’t life suck’ concepts and becomes very one-note. Nirvana, unnoticed as it may have been by the sea of sound-alike bands that still plague us to this day, really did try to push the boundaries of the genre they unwittingly formed. “About a Girl”, a simple two chord shuffle, injects a little bit of wryness and wit into the usual story of a boy pining for the girl who never notices him. I’ve always particularly liked the ‘I do hope you fit this shoe’ line, the narrator thinking that he’s Prince Charming, so why shouldn’t this girl want to be with him? Of course, the anguished howl of Kurt’s vocals add a different dimension, you could almost hear this as the rantings of a stalker. Intended or not, that little bit extra depth is what Nirvana’s followers failed to include in their own work. Three stars.

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