This is one of those mysterious little songs that works perfectly for no precise reason. The music has a chuggy, sloppy-tight New York City sound but lacks both a discernible chorus and, even, any kind of proper hook; melodies, meanwhile, kind of slide around in an elusive way, when words aren’t being out-and-out spoken-sung. Meanwhile, the lyrics, often a series of imponderable questions, twinkle with aphoristic charm but don’t seem to add up to any bigger picture narrative or statement. Through it all, Gabriel Levine flaunts a singing style that veers towards the neighborhood of off-key.
And it’s all a wonderful thing. It starts with some serious string playing, and even as the strings take a quick back seat to that Sweet-Jane-ish guitar riff and reverberant bass line, they’re always in the background, and the occasionally-heard cello fill is an atmospheric bonanza. (As often as we encounter strings in rock songs, we don’t often find a real rock’n’roll sound blended adroitly with individual stringed instruments.) The song seems to turn on the linchpin of the one line that’s clearly spoken (0:56): “You’ve been asking everyone to get out of your way/But there never was anyone in your way.” We don’t know who is talking to whom here but this line just kind of zings you with its unexpected magnetism. From there on in, Levine has firm command of this slippery, winsome tune (which also clocks in, as the previous song did, at 2:40, for all your song-time fans), and we are all better off because of it.
Levine is front man for the Brooklyn-based band Takka Takka; Gabriel & The Hounds is essentially a solo project, but one in which he called on the services of any number of locally-sourced musician friends. The project’s name was inspired by the classic Kate Bush album Hounds of Love, which is as worth being inspired by as, pretty much, anything yet recorded, if I may say so. The Gabriel & The Hounds album is called Kiss Full of Teeth and it is coming out at the end of the month on the Ernest Jenning Record Co., based in Brooklyn.