Strummy, melancholy Glaswegian pop
This is a lovely, crisp bit of strummy, melancholy indie pop, and if it reminds you of Camera Obscura and/or Belle & Sebastian, well, all hail from Glasgow, where apparently this type of strummy, melancholy indie pop is a prevailing musical dialect. But I encourage listening above and beyond the similarities, and tossing aside genre generalizations because, as I have said time and again, it’s far less important for a song to sound different than for it to be good. “Stop This Now” is deliciously good—so good in fact that it is different, if maybe in more subtle ways than can be summarized via pre-established labels.
Everything happens quickly here. The pace is light-footed, the verse concise—one melodic line, repeated twice, each time ending on an unresolved note. We’re at the chorus by 0:25, and yet see how we’re still not at any resolution. The pace stays fleet but the melody itself slows down, with front woman Melanie Whittle now singing fewer words per bar. It’s this opening part of the chorus that just nails the song for me—that lilting, deceptively simple triplet of lines (“And I know/And you know/We both know”) displaying both rueful wit and anguished charm, unfolding across those lovely chords that keep not resolving until we get to the twelfth bar (0:42). And even then we don’t feel full closure until the guitars strum their way through to the sixteenth measure, as we tend to need eight eight or sixteen measures for our ears to feel settled. The second trip through the verse is fortified by some dandy guitar work, the chorus’s follow-up enhanced with a winsome countermelody. Pay attention, however, or the thing will pass you by—it’s all over by 2:18 (the song actually ends before the MP3 does).
Founded by Whittle, the Hermit Crabs have recorded one full-length album to date, 2007’s Saw You Dancing. “Stop This Now” is from the band’s third EP, entitled Time Relentless, which is out this month on Matinee Recordings. MP3 via Matinee.
Always with a vaguely nostalgic sound, The Ladybug Transistor by now operates kind of meta-nostalgically, since the band itself dates back to an entirely different musical age—born out of the Elephant Six Collective in 1995: pre-Napster, pre-MP3, very nearly pre-WWW.
>”Clutching Stems” – The Ladybug Transistor
Always with a vaguely nostalgic sound, The Ladybug Transistor by now operates kind of meta-nostalgically, since the band itself dates back to an completely different musical age—born out of the Elephant Six Collective in 1995: pre-Napster, pre-MP3, very nearly pre-WWW. They disappear for such long stretches at a time that I’d pretty much forgotten what an appealing sound they have, all sad-sprightly and ’60s-pop-influenced. Belle & Sebastian comes to mind also; although different bands in many ways, there’s a common vibe, both atmospherically and melodically, between this Brooklyn ensemble and Stuart Murdoch’s Scottish gang. Both bands offer up a powerful kind of nostalgia that remains somehow, also, both of-the-moment and timeless.
What has me in love with this song in general is the juxtaposition of the rapid pace and the melancholy air, which is not a natural combination. The song’s fleetness also disguises its unusual construction: it seems to be built around a meandering, two-tiered chorus, without any otherwise repeating element in the song. I don’t hear a verse. What has me in love with this song in particular is the aforementioned chorus, which stretches beyond something simple and immediately singable, accumulating a quiet sort of grandeur as we are led to a truly wonderful melodic moment: front man Gary Olson singing, “And now that I’m not/It’s all coming apart” (first heard at 1:07). This is worth the price of admission. More goodness: the striking titular image, which implies an entire story in those two concrete words.
Always something of a free-floating outfit, the Ladybug Transistor has experienced any number of lineup changes over the years. One of them was tragic, as drummer San Fadyl, on board since 1997, died of an asthma attack in April 2007. The band has not recorded since then, until now. (Their last album, released in June 2007, had been recorded with Fadyl.) Three new members have joined three LT veterans; the end result is Clutching Stems, due out on Merge Records in June. The band was previously been featured in 2003 and 2007.
MP3 via Merge.