The Power of Three

I promise that I will lay off the dream pop for a while after this. jk. I will never lay off the dream pop. But I may give it a rest with this particular Belle & Sebastian album. I know I’ve been flogging it pretty relentlessly. Dream pop is dream pop for a reason, though. I love the gauzy, slightly twee atmosphere. It’s retro and it feels innocent, even though it may have lyrics that are the opposite of those things. It feels like music from European caper movie from the sixties. If it helps me imagine myself as a glamorous sixties ingenue, don’t judge. I want to feel like Catherine Deneuve in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg sometimes, instead of Catherine Deneuve in Repulsion.

A Politician’s Silence

Yes, this record again. I just keep playing it. I have to say that I’ve never paid much attention to the lyrics of this song before, but that’s where unasked-for lyric videos come in. You’ll find that it has a little bit more depth than the glowing melodies would suggest. Of course, Belle & Sebastian cornered the market on bookish romanticism a while back, with their penchant for wordy, Morrissey-esque album titles. This isn’t quite master level, but it’s not quite your garden variety I-Love-You pop either. The slight touch of doom pushes it over the edge. Love just means more when the world is threatening to burn; it’s a refute to the wordy title.

Play for Today

Don’t judge, I really love this album. I know it’s a bit sudden and random. I mean, I never cared about Belle & Sebastian before, and they’ve been around for more than a decade. Also the record came out two years ago I’m obsessed with it now. And I still don’t particularly care for any of their other records. They’re kind of boring and low-key. I think maybe I like this because it reminds me of Savoir Adore, who don’t exist anymore. It’s kind of hard to really develop an interest in a band that’s not really a band, though. They’re more of a collective, led by singer Stuart Murdoch, and they’re all very normal and boring in real life. These are the kind of musicians who make music because they’re professional musicians and it’s their job, unlike the kind who set out to become rock stars because they’re too dysfunctional to do literally anything else with their lives. Which kind of a challenge to be a fan of. Call it vague appreciation rather than genuine interest. But still, this is a record that has worked its way into regular rotation, and honestly, not that many albums do that.

Pistol (A. Cunanan, Miami, FL. 1996)

This weird little number is my favorite song from the new Modest Mouse album. It’s my favorite, obviously, because it’s the weirdest. Now, I loved the new Modest Mouse album. But I also heard the criticism that it wasn’t nearly weird enough. That’s a valid point; compared to their early work, it wasn’t very weird. It just sounds like a Modest Mouse album, of which there have been enough that we’ve become used to what Modest Mouse sounds like and are now desensitized to how weird the Modest Mouse sound really is even at their most radio friendly. When you delve into it, though, you may recall that Modest Mouse is actually one of the most gratifyingly weird bands to ever enjoy semi-mainstream success in this weirdness-averse godforsaken country. So basically, you gotta take your critical consensus with a grain of salt. Look at the big picture. Take in the broader context. And this song is just genuinely bizarre. Should’ve been, could’ve been the lead single. It would sell!

Oh, and by the way, does the name A. Cunanan ring a bell? It certainly does for me. Andrew Cunanan was the serial killer who murdered Gianni Versace.

Piggy in the Middle

This has a nice sixties europop vibe. Which is exactly on trend right now, I think. We’re all about celebrating old things that used to be uncool. I suppose that includes Belle & Sebastian themselves. They debuted in 1996, and shoegazing dreampop wasn’t exactly mainstream. The tides have turned quite a bit since then; emo happened, and now nearly everybody is a shoegazer. So I hope that Stuart Murdoch feels a little vindicated, after being mocked by the cool kids for so long.


Last year, Ryn Weaver was on my list of favorite records, with points added for most interesting debut. Weaver is an incredibly promising artist. Her voice is amazing. She has the stage presence of a rock star. But her greatest strength is her eclecticism. She’s not about to be pigeonholed in any particular style; the songs on her album range from folky to hard rocking. Sometimes the same song goes from folky to hard rocking. Here, she strikes an artful balance of honky tonk and chamber pop. It’s an unexpected combination, and the mark of a thoroughly confident artist. Weaver is comfortable referencing a wide range of styles, both musically and vocally. Thanks to a background in both visual arts and theatre, she’s a complete package.


How does Ms Mr distinguish themselves from all the other electropop boy/girl duos? That’s a question they may be asking themselves as well. The electropop field is very crowded right now, and it’s hard to call who will be remembered. Between Ms Mr, Wild Belle, Chvrches, Grouplove, Broods, Electric Youth, Savoir Adore and many others, well, it’s a great time to be alive. It’s nice to see so many nice young people making fun music, even if they all kind of look and sound the same. (Which, by the way, can be said of most musical genres at the height of their popularity.) At least Lizzy Plaplinger here has great style and bright red hair, those things alone often being enough to catapult a person to instant fame. Plaplinger isn’t exactly a household name yet, but she could be; she looks like a star.