Saturday, May 7, 2011

From the Vault: Nightmare of You

By all rights, I should absolutely hate Nightmare of You.  It's a holy hell of pop-indie cliche horrors by a dude who has clearly never, ever been touched by a girl and takes this out by playing his Smiths albums and crying.  Don't get me wrong, I have cried over many, many Smiths songs ("Rubber Ring" is perfect for all occasions of weeping, from break-ups to quarter-life crises, although I have shed tears for "William, it Was Really Nothing" and "These Things Take Time")

It's as though lead singer Brandon Reilly dug through Morrissey's garbage and found his high school notebooks, helping himself wholesale to lyrics so melodramatic that would make even Robert Smith say, "dude, chill."  From the ever-present romanticism of death (especially car crashes (a la "There's a Light that Never Goes Out") as featured/stolen in "Dear Scene, I Wish I Were Deaf" and "I Want to Be Buried in Your Backyard") to use of Morrissey-tinged words like "dismal" and "charming," and seriously, (stop using the word "romantic") and the sort of creepy obsession with violent crime, the whole package reeks of scattered gardenia petals and sad, lonely desparation.

And you just know Brandon Flowers of the Killers could take this guy in a fight.  And I could take Brandon Flowers in a fight.

But they've also got these charming Johnny Marr styled melodies, which make even shlock like "Why am I Always Right" (sample lyric "I love you terribly/I swear that this is true/but I just can't stop my hands from smothering you," which I put on a mix CD for someone and probably shouldn't have been surprised when he broke up with me) is undeniably catchy.  I like to think of it as Morrissey for beginners--because listening to the Smiths is a life-changing experience.  I remember listening to my older sister Shaun's copy of The Queen is Dead and hearing that opening melody and knowing that my life would never be the same.  That song forever changed how I heard music and how I understood lyrics.  It had a profound effect on me as a writer, the beginning of a change in style from overwrought to carefully, cleverly constructed.  I won't say I've gotten to Morrissey-level lyricism yet, but I'm making strides.

When you're a teenager, it might just not be possible to absorb that much change.  I'm still absorbing the Smiths, still hearing new melodies and understanding new lyrics (the vinyl really helps on the former) even though I've been listening to the same songs for 10 years now.  Although I only recently discovered "Our Frank" and any song that more or less declares, "If you do not stop talking, I will puke blood" speaks volumes to me.

But alas, I guess we can't all be Morrissey.  And for those days when we can't be Moz, Nightmare of You will do.

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