Thursday, July 14, 2011

July 14 - Pinkies

Over the past three years The Big Sleep's "Pinkies," a little indie gem that I found on an Insound mixtape, has remained one of my top-played songs. It fits every mood, and I think it's absolutely brilliant; I'd even go as far to say it's one of the best songs I've heard in years. I know that that's a large claim to make, but here's why:

Beginning calmly with the static-y feedback of the opening notes, "Pinkies" explodes into atmospheric haze and a winding guitar line. From then on "Pinkies" remains relentlessly forceful, filling every crevice of silence with sound(s). This approach is not uncommon; noise-rock rarely takes breaks, simulating (to me, at least) our endless flow of conscious/subconscious thoughts. Actually, all the elements of "Pinkies" are fairly commonplace: the guitars alternate between the gritty strums of the verses and sonorous notes of the chorus; the lyrics, when decipherable, trade casual language for poetry; the drums plod along with all the ruckus; and the vocals steadily half-sing, half-shout without varying much in tone. Combined, though, these ordinary elements make "Pinkies" nothing short of magical.

I realize this is a very subjective experience, but "Pinkies" captures what Jack Kerouac seems to be describing in On the Road: that brief feeling of transcendence, or even Godliness, elicited through music. For him it was Jazz, but the genre is inconsequential; what matters is music's ability to transform--not just to appeal to different tastes or to evoke different emotional reactions--but to actually create an escape from the everyday through sound. "Pinkies" manipulates its elements to do just that: mammoth feedback surrounds you, slowing your current of thoughts, while half-decipherable vocals make it difficult to sing along. So you just listen. Soon you're tangled in the waves of noise, and once the heavy bass begins to mimic your heartbeat, the track's most lucid vocals aim for your heart:

You told your friends
You'd never come back here again, well,
You told a lie, well,
We're all telling lies
But your secret's out now.

The words are biting, capturing the anguish and anger that often accompany disappointment. Such rage can be heard in the song's tumultuous ending, even if the singer's calm demeanor belies the track's emotions.  But this even-keel expression is fitting for a song like "Pinkies," where the words are spoken to encourage emotions, not dictate them. Not to say the song allows you control over how you react, however -- "Pinkies" will elicit your most basic emotions; whether it's transcendence or a bad-trip is for your subconscious to decide.

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