This is almost not a song. A scant two minutes to start with, “Dig Your Grave” uses the first 40 seconds on its three-part introduction. Then we hear an engaging, They Might Be Giants-esque verse and a very concise chorus (the words “Dig your grave” repeated three times) before returning to 20 or so more seconds of instrumental; we finish up with the chorus repeated a couple of times. So this thing is two minutes long and fully half of it doesn’t involve singing, and a good part of the singing that exists consists of just three words.
If it all manages to work—and I think it does, particularly in the context of this week’s three songs, as a follow-up to “Black Silk“—it does so on its ability to pack an unusual amount of variety into a narrow time frame. Most short songs, perhaps too aware of their shortness, don’t invest in introductions and instrumental breaks because there seems no time to fiddle with such frivolities. The Pharmacy does the opposite, honing the song down to one verse—although it may be two, sung back to back—so that the rest of the song still has space to breathe and develop. The “frivolities,” it turns out, offer a lot substance. Another way the song seems to expand beyond its clock time is through its rather distinctive mashing together of a very garage-rock-y vibe, complete with lo-fi-seeming vocal distortion, and a more aspirational sort of musicality. The keyboard motif that opens “Dig Your Grave” does not in any way shout “garage rock” at us, and neither does the song’s multifarious construction. And yet the chorus certainly does.
From Seattle, the trio The Pharmacy has been doing its lo-fi, neo-garage-rock thing for 10 years now. They have three albums to show for it and, in keeping with its lo-fi street cred, a bunch of 7-inch singles, a split cassette, and a demo CD-R. “Dig Your Grave” is the lead track from its latest 7-inch, which, at four songs, is more of an EP than a single. It comes to us from Kind Turkey Records, and they’re the ones offering up the MP3 as well.