Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Black Out

The saying "Ignorance is bliss" holds a lot of truth. If you're not aware that anything is wrong, about what you have to worry? If you're in the dark, you don't see imperfections.

Take a hole-in-the-wall bar for instance. The lights are mostly turned off. The only thing you're thinking about is getting plowed and hooking up with the young lady next to you. Then the bartender turns on the light and tells everyone to go home. You look around and see that this dingy little place is not where you want to spend the rest of your evening. The woman you were just chatting up doesn't look so great either. (She's probably thinking the same thing about you.)

Ignorance truly is bliss. There is no worrying about the world if you're not aware it has any problems. It's almost freeing to be so worry-free.

Though it's ultra-cryptic, "Black Out" plays with this idea. After rather confusing verses, Malkmus repeats, "No one has a clue." And the song closes with the repeated lines of "fun fun fun, fun for the summertime blues" and "it's gonna set you free."

What could ever have Pavement so carefree, without worldly worry? Pot. It's been well-documented that band succumbed to a lot of pot smoking during the recording of Wowee Zowee, and "Black Out" does little to dispel this fact.

(Crappy live footage of "Black Out")

Thursday, July 3, 2008

You Are a Light

"You Are a Light" is a love song. Pavement is not known for too many love songs, but this is certainly one, and the song is as Pavement a love song as there is.

The first verse describes a life in chaos. Anxiety is abundant thanks to our impending dependency on technology. (It was recorded in 1999.) The technology frustrates and confuses, making a return to the good old days and suicide our only options. At least SM has his light or to whomever he's singing.

Another scenario is described in the second verse where SM finds himself studying abroad, in Spain. Silly American/middle-class phobias of gypsy children and mortuary feasting consume him. Luckily, he has his love to shine the light to lead him home.

Things get downright sexual as the third verse begins. References to driving sticks and a lot of hollering close out the song.

SM repeats that he is "the isolator." An isolator is usually a switch that does what its name suggests: it isolates electrical current. The current in this case could be fro his light or in hopes of powering his light. Either way, this is as passionate as the usually monotone singer gets.

The music of the song is easy and jazzy through the first two verses, but rocks and breaks out after the second chorus with a typical Pavement-esque solo. This switch in intensity is carried into the third verse. Overall, besides the jazzy undertones, the arrangement is rather minimalist. The simplicity of the band's performance is augmented by various blips and electronic flourishes here and there, never more clearly heard than at the very end.

(Th performance below contains alternate lyrics from the track I reviewed. SM was known to mess with lyrics now and again.)