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Tyler Barton

02 Mar Tyler Barton

REVIEW OF MY EX’S NEW ALBUM

 

Morning, all. This is my first post here. Much love to the editors for providing the space I needed to give this thing a real track-by-track analysis. I pride myself on being the first to review it—the release date being two Tuesdays from now. Some readers here may know me from my weekly reviews at Pitchfork (who refused to run this, insisted I not even attempt this review at all, and now won’t even answer my emails or texts) but I promise you this honesty merits a readership. So, thanks.

-JL

 

Bee Shards

Gone

1 out of 10

Song 1 is so off. This retro, watery tone that leaks into so much indie rock has undoubtedly stained another song. A single’s success is now equated with it being granted the adjective “shimmery” in review. To boot: It’s 2015, but a look at the song structure here recalls a “magic” (read basic) formula listeners loved for centuries, but have, in this decade, been sobbingly bored by. A-B-A-B-C-B-A—how brilliant. I don’t know the song titles (I torrented the leak this morning) but if I had to take a guess based on the single, repetitious lyric, it’s probably “Leave me alone, forever” which carries with it a meta-narrative: that’s what I want to do to this track.

Song 2 is probably about me. Her poetry’s awfully seethrough. Here she croons, “You told me that/ You’d never tell me that/ You were an aristocrat/ I always treasured that.” So, I guess we’re all too fancy for her now? With our awareness of cliché and everything? Our song structures that try? Or is it simply that we have artistic interests beyond independent rock? Is that what this is about? She hates jazz, anything organic. Additionally, the melody feels lifted. It literally screams Friends Theme Song.

Song 3’s quintessential faux-folk, western appropriation rock earns it a permanent place in my recycle bin. I don’t even really know what she’s referencing. We’ve never been to West Texas? She’s never seen a rodeo.

But, Song 4 does take me back to the Gateway Arch. We rode this little elevator cramped with a fat couple who’d done the ride twice already (it cost $12, which is to say: they craved this view. I’ll admit to being stoked, asking, “Will we see the whole Midwest?” to which she quipped, “What’s there to see?” I laughed, but the couple looked nonplussed.) It was legit breathtaking. Heaven’s sky through that wide window. The flattest flatland cut by brown water. We held hands a few seconds before she broke away to take a call. I figured there’d be no service up there in all that molded metal. It feels like that call never ended. Yeah, so the track has this warm, heavy tone that spends five minutes sadly dissipating. Great intro, soaring chorus, the rest a boring disappointment. Balloon animal w/ slow leak.

Song 5 was written no doubt in that dumb month you were a luddite. So pretentious, all look-at-me-not-doing-it. I remember how you wanted, like, some award for deactivating your Facebook. We were so impressed. But seriously, didn’t that Noisey article say there’s a separate Instagram account specifically for this release tour? (I’d link to it if I really gave shit). The lyrics here spin a yarn about a cabin in the—youguessedit—motherfucking woods, references Thoreau, says something terribly witty about “dumb”-phones. Skip this one.

Song 6 and I can’t go any longer without commenting on the drumming. Two words: needlessly technical Neal-Peart jerkoff bullshit. I’ll bet he grew up being hearing, You’re so talented! yet he can’t hold it down with a standardass four-on-the-floor? Nooo not with all his tricky 9/8 signatures and sophisticated fills, plus that layered percussion lookatmymarimba and hearallmylittlebells? Gag me. Dude has something to prove. Or he’s compensating (have you seen him?). Her other albums, as fans will recall, were solo. God, Little Windowless XXX Warehouse was rock solid, sound glowed like an agate, just her, dude, just her voice, her guitar: her. Only her in your ears and you can fucking FEEL our livingroom and my old mics rigged with duct tape. Even last year, on Rural Things, I was weary of the horns and the guest cellist but it worked because she still had control, still held center. But then this full band thing scared me, man, I knew it would fuck everything up. Yeah, guess what? Looks like my fear knew exactly what it was doing.

Song 7? Still not a mention of a single good time? Which, I promise you—they abounded. So I’ll take the liberty here for a few reminders: me lingering bedside, our mattress on the floor, the bus huffing past the window; she kissing the different clefts of my face; the last look before the door closed; CocoRum, our green-eyed cat; that soulful squirrel clawing up our window-screen and freezing still, stealing glances in his peripherals, and us whispering, Winslow, get down from there; Steven’s barn wedding; the Blue Mountain Parkway; Dunkin Donuts on every New England exit; our cooking soup with wild onions; her blue dress unraveled by one lone string pulled slowly suspending sex that woke our neighbors till they pounded with whoknowswhat weapons on the floor and it rained plaster on our still new bodies and—

So, if you run into her, or anyone else has better luck scoring an interview, or if somehow you’re swiping through this on your Galaxy right now, can you ask where Song 8’s melody came from? I’m halfway certain I used to hum it during showers. It’s a tune I’ve had in me since a kid. Did you hear my hum so much it made you crazy and it came out in that renowned Nashville studio? Did you catch it? Is that me in there? But remember I used to critique albums saying they went on for too long and that everyone acted like ten was some holy number because oh it had two digits and God himself had one day proclaimed we musicians had to at least reach that when really most albums would benefit from just having the needle pulled up 3/4ths through? But do you remember, you never agreed you never did and you said most good records—most classics—finished out with some climactic back-end rockers—the deeptracks fans would adore and tattoo on their forearms and pray for at shows but never ever in their lives hear live. And then that last song, track 10, or 11, would usually just kill you softlybittersweetly like that final falldownbeautiful shot in The Graduate or a fire live jazz number fading out. So, I don’t fucking get it: why can’t you finish anything anymore? For these and so many other reasons this song’s difficult for me to listen to, but also yes, usually where I click repeat in iTunes. I’m sorry, I admit it.

 

1st Comment (9:02am):

Dude get a fucking life.

 

2nd Comment (9:02am):

TL/DR but yeah this album blows.

 

3rd Comment (9:03am):

She’s gonna write fuckboy an open letter…in 3-2-1

 

4th Comment (9:09am):

YO hot ASAP Rocky type beats RIGTH HERE–> soundcloud.com/deejayrambo69

 

5th Comment (9:15 am):

Bee Shards = lowkey awesome … this guy’s reviews, always = pure shit

 

6th Comment (9:17am):

I just have to come clean on one thing: the year we met in high school (sophomores, in love with pop/punk and last.fm) do you remember showing me that Youtube vid about the four chords? Axis of Awesome? I’m not going to pretend I forget what it’s called. I remember it like our first hand-hold at the Galleria Chik-fil-A, or the time your mom heard us in the shower. You were ecstatic about the video, couldn’t wait for me to see it. We were in your mom’s computer room. Buffering took like ten minutes while you explained how your mind had blown—how it’d changed everything you knew and thought about music. In the video, a trio plays a medley of every big pop/rock song from the last thirty years, using the same four chords—Don’t Stop Believin’, Country Roads, Sex and Candy. Everything. I don’t remember your words, but I can see your face so open and excited for me to freak out. You were freaking out. Maybe that’s what you said, “I’m freaking out. Can you believe this?” Because it was like rabbit had been pulled from a hat, but to me it was like the rabbit came out dead, murdered. The band kept playing all these songs, but all I heard was the band calling me a dumbass. YOU DIDN’T KNOW?–they sneered– IT’S SO FUCKING EASY TO WRITE ANY SONG. I was in shock. It felt like being pantsed in the cafeteria by Zach Gross freshman year. I remember watching just the first minute, you studying my face for a reaction, and me saying “Oh yeah, you didn’t know that? That’s like every song ever. Legit, it’s like all the same chords.” And this was the first time I saw your face the way it looked every time you left me. I should have just told you how it felt, like someone pulled my pants down, like everything was a sham and I hated the whole fucking world and you and me were going to write music so much deeper. Instead I put myself unfairly above you, I guess to make myself feel old, intelligent. You didn’t believe that I already knew about the trick. You were crushed that I was lying, staring right at you and faking it. Anyway, that’s what this last one brings to mind, Song 9, a hidden track, simple and brilliant, one I only just noticed. It’s composed of that classic four-part cadence. I hear it now, finally, after twelve years, how those chords are golden and touchable, but only worthy of people, like you, who get it.


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Tyler Barton lives and writes and sometimes writes together with Erin Dorney in Minnesota.
He helps to edit Third Point Press.

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