Friday, August 28, 2015

Song of the Day #192 - Panda Bear - Selfish Gene

Only you can fill those spaces

I was talking to a friend today about selfishness/selflessness and although yeah my feelings on these sort of subjects always trend pretty hard towards Dostoyevsky/Levinas "you have an absolute ethical responsibility to the Other" really spiritual/metaphysical stuff, I also like to cherrypick evolutionary psych that supports this feeling of "altruism rules everything around me" and so I recommended she read The Selfish Gene. She just messaged me to say she's reading the intro and really enjoying it, which is nice, and I happened to be listening to PBMTGR and this song came on and I was like huh wow coincidence (or synchronicity maybe lmao if you want to get really really metaphysical).

I think I still like PBMTGR a little more every time I hear it, which is pretty crazy because I've been listening to it semiregularly for close to a year now. I think it's an album that benefits a lot from your own anticipations. Like before I felt like it wasn't as much of a "jam" as it could be, that it lacked parts that you get super hype for and can't help but sing along. That's a feeling that develops, though, from becoming familiar with songs. Now every section becomes like that! Everything is becoming anthemic! Like with a good jam, all the seeds and heterogeneity is becoming part of a whole appeal. Idk.

With a title like this you might think we're on some real meaning of life type shit in the lyrics but ummm well maybe. Basically it seems like Noah is lamenting various ways people attempt to make themselves happy and their lives meaningful that end up being unsuccessful. It comes from a sort of benevolent place of nonjudgmental nonsuperior wisdom, feels pretty Dostoyevskian. His ultimate conclusion is that it's all about the self, like, happiness and fulfillment has to occur from within. There's no external formula that is guaranteed to inspire it. He had this sort of sentiment way back on "Carrots/Good Girl", the imo best track on Person Pitch which is saying one hell of a lot. As is his wont, he expresses everything through weird metaphors that feel very personal and kinda confusing but the fact that he tries to convey them to you feels really warm and intimate. And even though it's kind and unpretentious, there's a sense of gravity to it, that he finds it really important that you understand him. Starting with the "Just now I see it so clear"... Is this song about how evolution occurs? Cause mutation isn't about external factors, you know. Like stuff doesn't grow more hair to stay warm because it's cold out, it just happens to have that mutation, and then it's genetically selected because it's more fit for reproduction. And likewise Noah is saying that all change comes wholly from within, it has to make sense because of us, not because of the circumstances?

Uh maybe but most of the appeal of this song isn't actually based on what it means but because holy crap this is a jam. This actually has the same "vacuum beat" feeling that I tried to describe yesterday for "679", but even stronger, so if you have no idea what I'm talking about (which is fine) maybe you can compare the beats of these two songs and look for whatever quality is getting "stronger". Super strong examples are this and this if that helps. Also like "679", there's a certain quality to how this song starts, to the "flow" of it, that I can never quite anticipate, which is super hype and addictive. Like, there's a disconnect between my memory of it and how good it actually is, even when my memory contains "better than you remember it". The ending is like quintessential AnCo jam: repeating something so infectious you can't help but repeat it too, and then you start to believe it, and you're glad that you do: "You'll trip up again/Go get up again".

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