Album of the Year? Mayhaps.
I often gush about songs. Often I gush about bands. Not nearly as often do I gush about entire albums. There are 3 reasons for this:
- As a full-time student, I don’t have the sufficient funds to purchase a lot of albums
- I don’t “illegally” download albums and, therefore, must take full advantage of free or inexpensive offerings by bands when available (which isn’t as often as I’d like)
- There tends to only be a handful of albums per year that really, truly, inexplicably stand out to me
Due to all 3 of these reasons, I’m going to tell you briefly how and why I am writing today with special regard to Little Green Cars‘ album, Absolute Zero.
I came across this little band out of Ireland—who sound anything but Irish—by happenstance as their song Big Red Dragon was a free iTunes download a few months back. I enjoyed the tune and considered it to be one of the better songs I had heard so far in 2013; however, I didn’t give them much more attention for whatever reason. Then I saw a few weeks later that their entire album was only $6.99 on iTunes, so I scraped up some loose change, stuck it into the iTunes coin slot, Bob’s yer uncle – I had the album on my computer.
This is where the magic begins. Track one, Harper Lee, had me at hello: it begins with lead singer Stevie Appleby’s boyish vocals calmly accompanying a pulsating acoustic guitar strum, but the serenity only lasts some 35 seconds before the band kicks in with climactic harmonies through the chorus. The rest of the tune—as well as the album—swells with call-and-answer vocal harmonies that are reminiscent of The Mamas and The Papas’ California Dreamin’. It may sound obscure, but it works like you wouldn’t believe.
Sure, they are fantastic tunes, but Harper Lee and Big Red Dragon are not just accidents. The rest of Absolute Zero is a feast for the ears. Angel Owl and the aptly named My Love Took Me Down To the River To Silence Me continue the trend of vocal and tempo dynamics that were present in the previous tracks. The latter, lyrically, is musical melodrama with a vocal playfulness in the bridge that juxtaposes the despair of the lyrical content. Sung by co-lead singer Faye O’Rourke, who has a tremendously unique voice, My Love Took Me Down To The River To Silence Me is chill-inducing.
Things slow down with The Consequence of Not Sleeping which features some lovely finger picking and even more terrific harmonies. Red and Blue is far and away the most obscure song on Absolute Zero as it features nothing more than arpeggiated synth and auto-tuned vocals. But don’t get me wrong, these auto-tuned vocals are absolutely fitting to the tune.
Both The Kitchen Floor and Please again feature O’Rourke’s magnificent voice. I honestly couldn’t pick a favourite song from O’Rourke’s contribution to the album. Each of her solo offerings are unique, and yet very similar. Please best showcases her vocal ability while The Kitchen Floor exemplifies her keen sense for intense melody.
Perhaps Absolute Zero‘s best showcase, however, is its first single The John Wayne. Beginning slow and steady with 1/4 note bumps and strums—and more fantastic harmonies, obviously—The John Wayne teases until about 1:48 in when the tempo picks right up, mildly distorted guitars feverishly chug, and cymbals crash on the 8s. Lyrically, The John Wayne is the peak of what is a very well written album. The whole of the LP is musically devastating and lyrically sound, but this tune—to me—is the climax.
Due to its numerous styles and offerings, Absolute Zero is currently a front-runner for MoreThanAFeeling’s 2013 Album of the Year, without question. I’m a little perplexed as to why local commercial radio hasn’t picked up any of this talent’s music as their sound is commercially viable, but after what’s happened to other imports like Mumford & Sons, alt-J and Coldplay, perhaps I should keep my mouth shut?
I’ll leave you with an exerpt from the fantastic The John Wayne lyrics (which pair perfectly accompanied by the tune):
You know it’s your neglect is the reason that I’m so obsessed with you
And when I asked you your name you said John Wayne
And I guess it’s true
Coz then you shot me down
Doubled over and I hit the ground right in front of you
I guess in the Wild West it’s ok to shoot the pest that’s annoying you
It’s easy to fall in love
It’s easy to be alone
It’s easy to hate yourself when all your love is inside someone else
It’s easy to take it all
It’s easy to give it to when there’s more people out there to love than people who love you