My music-listening habits are strange, subsisting laissez-faire in a system reliant upon torrents and happenstance (and, occasionally, legit music purchases). Once a song enters my library, there’s no telling how long it will take me to really give it an honest listen — and, hopefully, to fall in love with it.
I hardly ever pay attention to albums, so for any given band the songs I like tend to crop up in waves. First-wave songs are the ones that get me right away — they could be singles or simply super-catchy regulars, tracks from the first album I decided to download or perhaps songs with intriguing titles (The Format’s “Let’s Make This Moment a Crime” gets me every time).
Second- and third-wave songs (and all those subsequent) are underdogs. I almost missed them. Maybe I didn’t like them at first. Maybe they were on that other EP. Whatever.
The other two songs I mentioned perusing via Youtube last Monday were from my most recent Voxtrot wave. Since Vox broke up, this wave might be my last, but hopefully not. I still need to pay “Berlin Without Return” some more attention.
Our first track is off of the Voxtrot’s only (sniff) full-length album, self-titled, from 2007. The song is “Blood Red Blood,” the album’s rightfully placed closer — unless you count the two iTunes exclusives I just now learned existed, hmm, which I do not — whose motto basically boils down to two words: carpe diem.
I know what you’re thinking — “Ebony, you hate life, why would you try to seize it?” But that’s the thing about Voxtrot, man, their songs can make even the cheesiest topics sound edgy and profound.
“Blood Red Blood” builds. It starts out rather reflective, threatening to come off a little bit boring — like some of the album’s more polished tunes (“Future Pt. 1” et al.) — which is why BRB didn’t make it into my first couple Voxtrot waves.
But it builds! About a minute in, optimistic violins sway in to represent that hopeless ideal of a better life (see also: Rilo Kiley’s “Does He Love You?” — except with flutes), while Ramesh croons the evocative-of-cocaine “You can suck off all you need to know,” leading into an awesome verse pondering legacy — “Do these things disapate in the years unread?”
Then the chorus debuts, first quiet and building and then repeated passionate and loud. More violins. Urgency in simple words that no one ever thought to put together: “I’m not afraid of life, I’m afraid of death.”
The song continues to oscillate in tone, ending with the titular lyrics — “It leaves you like blood red blood…” repeated four times, while those happy violins degrade into a down-to-earth mess of instruments. Something about those words — “blood red blood” — and the way Ramesh sings them have conned even a wretch like me into carpe-ing some diem. It’s all perfect.
Next: “Your Biggest Fan,” the title track of Vox’s 2006 EP. And even though said EP appeared before the final album and various singles — not to mention before any talk of breaking up — Your Biggest Fan (and even the album art) has a sort of contemplative-of-our-careers vibe it took me a while to accept. I get it, fans are like lovers. But if I wanted musicians singing about being musicians I’d put on some Good Charlotte and be done with it.
All that being said, though, “You Biggest Fan” perfectly captures the descent of a relationship steeped in unrequited love. It’s pretty much the 500 Days of Summer of indie rock.
YBF’s lyrics are “The Start of Something”-quality, meaning they deserve the same AP English absorption we gave to John Donne. Essentially, though, it’s a song about kthxbye-ing a torturous relationship.
There’s this verse—
I used to be your biggest fan
And then I saw you in the doorway
For a moment you looked tender and I knew
That I could never ever ever ever ever ever touch you
Because you might touch back
—describing how the narrator realized she (or maybe he, it’s unclear) couldn’t give affection, because then he might give affection, thus instilling more false hope and allowing the destructive relationship to continue.
And then there’s this—
And then I knew
That I would measure everybody against you.
—about the end, and how the reverberations from a Summer-like relationship can wind up lasting another 500 days. It’s a curse.
I don’t know, maybe I’ve just been scarred by love eleventeen too many times or something, but I feel like this song captures it, all the while remaining off-the-charts catchy. A-plus, Voxtrot.
(And apparently, the final “I used to be, I used to be, I used to be …your biggest fan” lines became “…in a band” on the Goodbye Cruel World tour. Well fine.)
Image via tympanogram.com.