Restraint and control. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are restrained on Fireproof, and it sounds good on them. You can hear that there’s energy there, waiting, ready to be released, but that tension is put to use in service of the song. The guitars on Fireproof sound a little like those on Radiohead’s Morning Mr. Magpie—truncated, cut-off, but also permitted to progress through a cascading series, with a spare note here and there flying off and ringing out; it’s all tension, suspense, the stress of keeping it together while not having it together at all.
Knife in the Water. A perfect Texas band. Space, heat, desolation, rock, river, light. You can hear it all in One Sound and on their debut album, Plays One Sound and Others, now reissued for the first time on vinyl. Knife in the Water later recorded Watch Your Back (which I wrote about a long time ago and resurrected from the ancient archives of Molars), a matchless song that I recently thought would fit perfectly somewhere in an episode of AMC’s “Preacher.” Plays One Sound and Others is subtle and good, a slow tumble, a whispered threat.
He sulks the hardest sulks, the leader does. He lets his chin rest on his chest and his shoulders slump. He emits sighs of high volume and intensity for seventy minutes. The leader will rise to continue his sulk, but only if someone asks him what the matter is. Then he goes to the window and looks into the middle distance, saying nothing. He frowns. He screws his lips up into a poutier pout than you or I have ever before witnessed. He invokes oaths upon the heavens, upon hell, upon a single god and other, lesser gods, but does so without providing explanation. The leader’s sulks can be provoked by the slightest disappointment or infelicity—say, butter not covering the entire surface area of a piece of his toast in the morning, or an insufficiently sincere compliment given to him regarding the gold leaf wallpaper that adorns the interior of his private jet. His sulks can be terminated by diversions: television, a steak, professional jesters, or the promise of an audience with important men.
All I need to say with this song is the following: Did you ever love Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World?” If so, you will fucking love this song by Porcelain Raft. It has the same hazy dream-life feeling. This song suggests to me the scenario of surfing a wave of liquid yearning only to fall gently upon a beach of tenderness and acceptance. Let us all take shelter in songs of this ilk. Gentle. Accommodating. Fantastic. A glimpse of another world.