“Lunatic, Lunatic, Lunatic” – Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos
Poignant, world-weary ballad from a shape-shifting band that has previously inspired both a cult following and an impressive amount of critical invective. But there’s little not to like here, or, truly, on the rest of their fine new album, Buzzard. From the clarity of the acoustic guitar to the subtle, well-chosen embellishments to front man Richard Edwards’ elusive and compelling voice, “Lunatic Lunatic Lunatic” commands and rewards attention. And don’t miss the song’s revelatory transformation from a sleepy, singer-songwriter-y narrative to a compelling band piece, which begins with the backward-sounding guitar break at 2:23. Compare how Edwards sings the song’s first lyrics, beginning at 0:29, to how he conveys them with the band at 2:56—compare in particular the two different voices he uses for the phrase “all the time.” Same words, same notes, and yet he almost sound like two different singers.
Turns out that “Lunatic, Lunatic, Lunatic” is one of those admirable songs for which the strength of the music and performance deeply invigorates the lyrics. I might not otherwise be engaged by the second-hand exploits of some supposedly crazy, unappealing young woman, but the melody and vibe grab me and cause me to reevaluate what I’m hearing. I stop to consider why the narrator is spending so much time on this grubby tale. Why, in fact, does he insist on calling this girl a lunatic not just once but three times each time? Weaker music would kill the story; here I intuit grand subtext. By the end of the song, listened to a certain way, one might legitimately wonder who the actual crazy person is.
Originally from Indianapolis, now Chicago-based, Margot features not even one person named Margot. Once something of a chamber-pop ensemble, the So and Sos have reoriented their sound—it’s a bit roughed up and guitar-based at this point—while re-populating themselves: there are eight of them listed as current members on their Facebook page, but only three remain from their initial incarnation. (Among the new folks is singer/songwriter Cameron McGill, who himself was featured on Fingertips just around this time last year.)
Buzzard was released on Mariel Recordings last month. MP3 via Filter Magazine.