Remember this feeling? Breeziness? Lack of any immediate concern? “Cool For a Second”—all warm, boopy synths and cheery electronic percussion—glides in with a carefree, encouraging spirit, a lovely breath of good-natured air. Augmented by front woman Christie Simpson’s conversational personability, the song snuggles itself easily into my happy place.
Maybe a bit too easily, if one doubles back and considers the words that accompany the breezy-bouncy music. Take the chorus:
Omissions never flare, they go out if you let them
Changing every year, I was cool for a second
Find me in the fall, swept underneath
Forgetting every charm, took a bullet together
You could pull apart, so I’d never remember
The image that would call you back to me
While I’m not sure what the heck she’s singing about, I’m quite sure that it’s not all unicorns and rainbows here. But maybe, on second thought, this does snuggle into my happy place, because I have long looked kindly upon songs that manage the unique-to-pop feat of juxtaposing happy music with sad or wistful lyrics. In the case of “Cool For a Second,” both the happy music and the wistful lyrics eventually, over the course of this concise 3:10 tune, seem to converge into one feeling—something resembling perseverance. I think this has a lot to do with the powerful circular melody of the chorus, with its persistent up-and-over refrain. You hear it first starting at 0:53, and it incorporates at one point the title phrase, and that’s another of the song’s subtle virtues: finding a title in a phrase that recurs but is not repeated too often. Most songs are named for phrases that are clearly the most regularly sung, and sometimes it’s the opposite, where the song has a title entirely separate from the lyrics. Most unusual is the song where the title is in there but doesn’t go out of its way to stick in your ear. I’m not sure why but in this case it seems especially effective.
Yumi Zouma is a quartet from Christchurch, founded in 2014. “Cool For a Second” is a track off Truth Or Consequences, the band’s third full-length album, released last month on Polyvinyl Records. MP3 via KEXP.