Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Best of: 2001

Then: Old 97’s Satellite Rides (Elektra), with its literate, unabashed romanticism appeals to my bookish, sensitive side. But obviously with hindsight it doesn’t really capture the year for me anymore.

Now: Of course, you could argue that there’s nothing in Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci’s How I Long to Feel That Summer in My Heart (Mantra) that flavors this major bummer of a year. This is after all a bucolic, pastoral album of overriding gentleness. But look at that title; if that doesn’t capture what at least part of the last four months of that year felt like – if you’re prone to melancholy of course – than I don’t know what else does. Toby Keith can’t speak for all of us, you know.

But enough of the zeitgeist angle. This ultimately isn’t really a very challenging album. These are mainly simple love songs that are occasionally preoccupied with the passing of youth, though frontman Euros Childs never addresses that topic with the depth worthy of The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society. When Childs tries to push himself lyrically, as on the Star 80-ish scenario of “Christina,” he is on deeply unsure ground.

How I Long’s triumph is as much structural as anything. The album possesses an effortless-sounding sequence. Every song’s arrangement is perfectly calibrated, with each entrance of harpsichord, brass, choral vocals happening exactly when required. And when you consider songs as gorgeous as “These Winds are in my Heart,” “Honeymoon with You” and “How I Long,” the result is an album that truly manages to embody the passing of summer to autumn. Which maybe brings us back to that zeitgeist.


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