Friday, December 19, 2008

Flipping and Melting

It’s time for some more The Sun Sawed in 1/2 praise! The group’s second full-length album Mind Flip came out in 1995, and it remains as their most straightforward record. It contains no violins, saxophones, trumpets, french horns or other fancy psych-baroque elements – there are some keyboards and one electronic beat though! This album proves that this band is capable of recording some very interesting powerpop music also with a bit more simple approach to arrangements.

The album is about 30 minutes long which is a perfect duration. There are way too many too long albums in the world, but I’ve never heard of a single album that would be too short. It’s always an advantage being economical – some people may disagree, but on the other hand I’ve never seen the point in recording minutes of buzz with nothing happening.. There should be action, energy, rock’n’roll, and melodies! It’s melodies where the magic happens.

This album definitely doesn’t lack excellent melodies. Right in the beginning of the album listeners are introduced to the sweetest voice on this planet. Yes, the one that gives a brand new definition to sweet! (As the previous one wasn’t even close to sufficient..) While Mind Flip is not the most mind-blowingly catchy song in the world it’s a perfect introduction to this album. Tim Rose’s magic never fails, and it surely doesn’t do it now.

For me, the whole love affair with SS1/2 started from Janet Greene. Now that I look at the song it sounds a bit surprising. It’s very catchy and original but I’m not sure if it really is the best way to introduce people to this band (for many people it probably has been). Now that I know The Sun Sawed in 1/2 better I don’t listen to Janet Greene particularly often anymore. I guess this is in fact a quite common phenomenon. You don’t choose the song that best represents the band to be the first single - instead you pick a song that has something more unusual, a hook that will get people’s attention. It surely worked with me, and it was good that it did! Janet Greene is a song – a fantasy - about the most divine girl there is, the one that looks like Monroe, Bardot and Fawcett at the same time. Basic pop thematic there.

Among the songs that I listen to most frequently are the following tracks. Fall is a beautiful and melancholic tune about not feeling alright. A lot of comfort is however added to the song in the form of upbeatness that is nicely embedded in the melodies – a representation of the exciting happy-sad –balance of powerpop that intrigues me very much. Life is another song about difficulties in life, melodically brilliant, a lot of soul there! Life is followed by one of the most magical moments in Sun’s catalogue, The Tops of Trees. The song floats in the air like a feather and is accompanied by an electronic beat that is transformed into acoustic drum beat in the end. There are also some very Pink Floyd-esque organ sounds in the end of the song. The vocals (so good!) and lyrics capture the delicate moment right before you close your eyes in the evening.. The lyrics also shed light on the true essence of love. What could ever be more wonderful?

There is no room for any sort of weaker moment on this album. Every song is good. Dashboard Christopher charms with its melodies and catchy riff, single track Green M&Ms deals with a boy-wants-girl theme and like Dashboard Christopher, shows Doug Bobenhouse’s lower vocals nicely. As I’ve already stated a couple of times before, based on the information that can e.g. be found on SS1/2’s music, every particle of air that travels through his vocal chords becomes something beautiful.. Remember that.

Head in the Sand Stan is also one of my favourites, a bouncy song with a catchy chorus and another low-tone melody that interestingly follows the guitar riff. Finally, there are Devil Fish and Wish, the most rocking two songs on the album – very nice work indeed. Devil Fish makes me wonder a bit what it would sound like if this band experimented with some more hardcore-like music..

When I think about the lyrics of this album I get the feeling that Tim Rose’s lyrics used to be a bit more metaphorical, more psych-themed in the past. There are definitely no shamans in his more recent lyrics. On Mind Flip, as usual, Rose’s lyrics are filled with dozens of lively expressions – and many, many words! Some of the songs (particularly on this album) are so packed with words that go forward so fast that I’m having problems with following the lyrics.. It’s my own fault, of course. I’m not a native English speaker, and my listening comprehension skills are still the weakest part of my knowledge of English. Even though I suck at understanding lyrics that I hear, I don’t feel I’m losing anything too important. I enjoy melodies so much. After all, I’m pretty convinced that if you concentrate too much on lyrics, you may not be able to hear and enjoy every bit of a brilliant, complicated melody – something that Tim Rose definitely masters.

Get this album now if you already don’t have it. You can find used copies of it quite easily – unlike the band’s first full-length or the debut EP. In my opinion, the entire catalogue of The Sun Sawed in 1/2 should be re-released as deluxe versions, but I know.. I’m just one person (who is slightly out of her mind due to this band’s utter brilliance).

The Sun Sawed in 1/2 at MySpace

No comments: