Weekly Fiver #20

Welcome to the Weekly Fiver, where I’ll pick five recently released songs of varying degrees of quality and thoroughly break them down for you. No two songs will be on the same tier, and they’ll be listed from best to worst. The top song will be an excellent must-hear tune, while the bottom song will be one you ought to stay away from or else you will make your ears sad. It’s all very scientific.

Excellent Song of the Week

Electric Blue- Arcade Fire

The fourth offering from the indie supercollective is the band’s chilliest song since the blizzard laden imagery of the “Neighbourhood” song series back in 2004. “Summer’s gone and so are you,” Regine Chassagne sings over crystalline synths and a hollow electronic soundscape that evokes the electric blue of the title perfectly. Even the prickly guitar sounds like some sort of cartoon penguin. It’s another example of the band’s innate ability to paint with sonic textures and precisely nail the vibe they’re going for.

 

 

Pretty Decent Song of the Week

Close Your Eyes- The All-American Rejects

Tyson Ritter and crew aren’t too far removed from straight up pop. Though they emerged from the mainstream emo scene of the 2000s, nobody would blink if they went the route of their sunny peers in Plain White T’s, Hot Chelle Rae, and American Authors. They may very well continue down that path, considering the A-side of this song is the radio friendly arena stomper “Sweat”. But as this song proves, there’s always been a more adventurous side to Ritter.

(One needs only to remember that their contribution to 2010’s Alice in Wonderland soundtrack was a supremely strange multi-part song called “The Poison”. It was pretty awful, but it still showed the band willing to experiment long before every other alternative act was dabbling in unconventional song structure.)

On “Close Your Eyes”, the band tries their hardest to distance themselves from pop-punk and the risk pays off remarkably well. The song gives off a late night beach side atmosphere, sounding not too dissimilar to Brandon Flowers‘ single “Only the Young”. The warm synth pads, the laid back rhythm, the slide guitars of that song are all here as well. Ritter even does a surprisingly competent impression of The Killers frontman during the bridge, right down to Flowers’ trademark cadence. Hey, there’s much worse songs they could have ripped off, and they made it different enough to stand on its own. At least they tried. *star sticker*

 

Meh Song of the Week

Champion- Fall Out Boy

It’s pretty hilarious that Fall Out Boy titled their 2013 comeback album Save Rock and Roll, then promptly went full pop. There’s a lot to be said about their revival as an NFL highlight reel soundtrack, but for now let’s just appreciate that after the sheer WTF that was their first single (“Young & Menace”) they’ve returned to making coherent music. It’s not very ambitious- yet another motivational workout anthem for the masses in hair metal trappings- but at least it sounds like a real song.

 

Below Average Song of the Week

 

Ahead of Myself- X-Ambassadors

X-Ambassadors are likely about to learn that life as a knock-off is a bumpy one. Imagine Dragons haven’t had the smoothest ride since their grand entrance, so Imagine Dragons 2.0 shouldn’t expect to have it any easier. They’re the Daughtry to that band’s Nickelback, and will likely disappear swiftly into the ether if they keep on pumping out more easy listening pap like this song.

 

Disappointing Song of the Week

Melody Unfair- Avey Tare

It’s not often said, but Animal Collective are one of the most influential bands of the 2010s. Merriweather Post Pavilion turned synths into a mandatory addition to every band, and every upstart “indie pop” band owes a huge debt to that album. Their sonic footprint (pawprint?) is massive. Everyone wants to sound like Animal Collective! Except the guys in Animal Collective, apparently.

Not only did the band themselves never return to that sound, but their various individual projects haven’t even attempted to record something in the same hemisphere. They’re actively avoiding accessible music at this point, and not even doing it in interesting ways anymore. It still sounds like all their other work, only a little bit less listenable every time. All the old tricks are here:

  • ambient SFX that sound like the song was recorded in rubber boots sloshing around a swamp
  • standard “new york” tenor voice
  • woozy, warped guitar
  • a complete and total aversion to coherence

Come on, Avey Tare, was being successful really that bad? Because this is probably the front runner for worst song of the year.