Given the synthesizer’s inherently goofy sound–the rubbery beeps and boops, the cartoonish echoes, and so forth–it’s a bit surprising, now that I think about it, that the instrument isn’t more jovially presented as a rule. Indeed, the synthesizer is offered up rather humorlessly in rock music by and large, far more often used with austerity or gravity than with a sense of humor, even when–or maybe especially when–propelling dance music of one kind or another.
Not so with “Careful What You Say.” From the opening noodles, the synthesizer tones are charged with something resembling mirth, if not flippancy. After the song settles into a seductive electro-groove–no organic instruments in sight–something else now goes against the electro-pop guidebook, which is front woman Elizabeth Harper’s singing. Rather than float above with requisite frosty archness, a match for the cold equipment around her, Harper pretty much purrs her way through this one. Whether down in the rich tone of her lower register for the verse or in the airier range of the chorus, Harper sings as if maintaining a wry, secret smile throughout, regardless of the emotional wreckage traced by the lyrics. As for that exquisitely breezy chorus, I like it all the more for how it is fitted into a song that refuses simply to be about its groove–and refuses, in the process, to take itself too seriously. (If you have any doubts about that latter point, check out the instrumental break that begins at 3:17; and just wait for it.)
Class Actress began as a solo project for Harper, but has become a full-fledged band. On the MySpace page, Harper is listed as “Songwriter,” Mark Richardson as “Beatmaker,” and Scott Rosenthal as “Heartbreaker.” “Careful What You Say” is a song from the trio’s debut EP, Journal of Ardency, slated for a February release on Terrible Records. MP3 via Pitchfork.