Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Song of the Day #304 - Have a Nice Day! - NEW ROMANCE ft. world's end girlfriend

Oh yeah! We are rock n roll music!!

We return to Song of the Day with one of my absolute favorite tracks of 2016 so far, including stuff from Radiohead, Kanye, Chance, Deakin, etc. The entire EP this comes from is fantastic, and many of the things I praise this track for are equally true for all the others, but "NEW ROMANCE" is still a tier above. Perennial Virgin Babylon genius world's end girlfriend helps out the label newcomer by interjecting his signature weirdness and ambitious structure. You can hear it almost immediately, when those horns come in around 0:10... that mixture of Giant Claw-like MIDIness and vaguely cartoonish "sadness" and "spookiness", which is so blatant and almost obnoxious that it somehow loops all the way around to profoundly moving - this is the signature weg sound.

Same with all the vocal interjections, the "baby baby!", "la la la la, la la la", etc., it feels so antithetical to anything sensible or enjoyable, like some disused scraps of some cliche hypothetical project. But they aren't quite the same as the samples they're aping, and the difference is comprised of some truly inexplicable territory, lying in an unknown dimension. It reminds me a lot of the vocal effects in "Caprice" (warning: do not listen to this if you want to retain sanity), a sort of relentlessness, signifying almost nothing. The way they're placed right at the end of his big vocal lines is fantastic too, creating almost a little dialogue... the little "hip hop breakdown" at 1:20, right after he first sings the title, is so satisfying that it almost makes me cry in a way I could never explain.

And then right after that, we launch into the "overwhelming synths", which I think is one of the two major appeals of Have a Nice Day! There's a shoegaze-like feeling of depth and wholeness to his backing synths, the sensation of waves rolling over you, both noisy and fuzzy and yet somehow incredibly clean and pure. There's a certain retro-futurism quality that feels "classic" in a way that's completely inverse to but wonderfully compatible with the future-retroism of weg's vocal samples.

His vocals - the second of his big appeals - has a similar sort of duality: at once it's both powerful and anthemic, the very ideal of singing; but, at the same time, there's an amateurish side to it that isn't hidden or emphasized, but is neutrally presented and immediately apparent. Beyond fitting perfectly with the sort of "outsider ambitions" of the whole track, there's a quality to these vocals that I really love where it isn't just about what is being said (which tbh I largely don't understand) or how it is being said, but in the vocals serving as a sort of "anchor" to your listening experience. I think this is a big part of why I like things like Makonnen, or Majical Cloudz, or a lot of indie rock bands... the vocals are just sort of "given" to you, in these gigantic, central, melodic lines. The experience of hearing the music and the experience of doing it at karaoke blend into one...

Okay karaoke is great but could you handle the RAP BREAKDOWN at 2:45? Can anyone? Discerning the emotional attitude of this song is hard enough without this sudden departure. You want to read everything as sincere, because this attitude evidently lead him to the creation of this song, but there's this sardonic feeling lurking, threatening to twist everything ironic. Especially in this structure... there's the rap part, sure, but even more the way at 3:50, when it sounds like maybe the finale and instead doubles down on the chorus (another weg structuring classic), there's something vaguely... tongue-in-cheek about it? I don't know if I could describe it. But it is possibly my favorite moment in music from 2016.

So yeah, pretty much perfect song. The music video is great too. Surprisingly similar appeal to the "Daydreaming" video... the Yume Nikki or Gondola-esque feeling of wandering around, observing, isolated and disjoint from the world, but with a mysterious determination. Here we see our protagonist dancing "futilely" in a number of places (including a night club, with somehow still the same amount of inappropriateness), somehow both shameless and shameful, wearing a Lou Reed shirt, and I feel I understand him completely, and understand myself completely when I see it. But who knows if I do.

No comments: