oddEvan

Slightly uneven since 2005

Month: July 2014

Sad Lyrics Over Uplifting Chords

I like Owl City. This is independent of my appreciation for Owl City. At their best, Owl City has a tendency to take me back to the late nights in my humid converted-attic bedroom the summer before my sophomore year of high school. To sum up a thousand-word essay in a sentence, it was the summer I really started letting my imagination free. Needless to say, it was a very formative ten weeks.

By that measure, Owl City’s new EP Ultraviolet does not disappoint.

The first track, “Beautiful Times,” features Lindsey Stirling on the violin. The music is full, lush, and steady, matching the song’s patiently optimistic lyrics. Lindsey’s violin helps drive home the song’s theme of seeing even a “fight of my life” being “beautiful times.” It’s followed by “Up All Night,” an infectious dance song that seems to be about a missed connection, though anyone that’s had a person (or other thing) on their mind for an extended length of time can relate.

The third track, “This Isn’t the End,” deals with heavy issues including suicide, panic attacks, and abandonment. It was hard for me, personally, to see past those issues enough to judge the song musically, though it does seem to be the weakest song in the set.

The selling point of the EP for me is the last track, “Wolf Bite.” Like Owl City’s first mega-hit “Fireflies,” the song has a bit of a musical dichotomy: while the words seem to belong to a quiet, understated song, the music apparently thinks otherwise. This is something Adam himself lampshaded on his blog:

Spoiler: Owl City is 95% sad lyrics over uplifting chords.

Unlike “Fireflies,” however, I think the dichotomy is warranted on this song. While “Fireflies” is a song about being unable to sleep (and things getting weirder as a result!), “Wolf Bite” is a call for help. Instead of the focus of the song being inward, the focus is outward toward another, calling out to “show me the way.” In other words, if you get one song off this EP, get this one.

Album Rating: B+

You can stream it on Spotify or buy it on iTunes.

I Like To Appreciate

I appreciate a lot of things, and I like a lot of things. They are not necessarily the same things.

In my personal dictionary, when I appreciate something it is usually on its more concrete qualities. I appreciate the workmanship of a well-built desk. I appreciate the fuel efficiency of a moped. I appreciate the cuss out of my laptop’s battery life. These are all quantifiable qualities: I can back up my appreciation with numbers and comparisons.

I also appreciate less-quantifiable things. I appreciate the way an illustrator uses facial expressions to convey emotion. I appreciate an author’s use of language to set a mood. I appreciate a composer’s ability to weave chords and melody together and a drummer’s ability to play the cuss out of some drums. These things are less quantifiable but still concrete to some extant.

All of these things add up to a healthy appreciation for something, and that is usually the biggest factor into whether I will recommend something for general consumption.

But it doesn’t mean I like it.

To me, liking something means I can connect with it on an emotional level. This connection is usually dependent on very personal factors: my temperament, my experiences, my ideals. Something I like will often remind me of or awaken in me a strong, unfulfilled desire for something, and it almost always ends up inspiring my imagination to go to new places.

It’s hard for me to recommend things on this basis alone. Usually if I like something, I’ll say things like “It’s not for everyone” or “Your mileage may vary.” I’m well aware of the personal nature of my feelings, and it’s hard to justify a recommendation simply based on that.

Maybe it’s a confidence problem: I’m not sure enough in my own taste to confidently recommend something. Maybe it’s a language issue, and I need to figure out the right words to use to differentiate my feelings. Or maybe it’s a false dichotomy, and I simply need to accept the fact that as a complex human being my opinions can be equally complex.

Maybe I just need to appreciate that I don’t always know why I like something.

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