Yes, it was indeed a warehouse in every sense of the word – it was dark and dusty, hot and sweaty. It was the same as the last time, for little has changed. This did not stop me from going there thrice, though; for the past three days, it was with much amusement that I found myself having books for lunch instead.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when you are aware that a book warehouse sales is taking place just across the street from where you work, and there is simply no escaping that glaring fact despite the absence of flashing neon signs. It was probably the only thing worth looking forward to, after having spent a little over a month at the new location.
So there we were, confronted with books of all shapes and sizes, stacked in whichever way possible, without regard to any order or genre. But I was suitably unimpressed at the selections available – or rather, the lack of. “I couldn’t find the fantasy and sci-fi section,” I had moaned to my work colleagues, who, like me, had unwittingly contributed to their coffers anyway, what with our spontaneous and unplanned purchases. (The three shelves or so dubiously marked “Fantasy” there were a gross disappointment.)
I did manage to stumble upon books that would help put a few existing series that I already have to completion, so I found some sort of an unwarranted accomplishment in that. But I think it was the handiwork of one particular lupine fellow that had me expecting more.
Drew first blood.
Status messages matter more than you think – a dubiously-positioned comma raises more than an eyebrow; a drastic enough change begs an avalanche of questions tomorrow. They thought I would not be able to take it, but really, they should have known me better than that.
Having to deal with two bloody disappointments within a span of a fortnight is more than I can take. So, yes – while I am left waiting for word that will never come, I am still hoping that the days ahead will be easier to overcome.
And that is why I have finally caved in.
On hindsight, perhaps it was simply inevitable.
You may string me out to dry and put me on the wire, but I will tell you to keep your headphones close to your heart, because that is where it will undoubtedly hit you the hardest. The effects will not be immediate, but they are indeed immaculate, unerringly coming towards you in a kind of careful precision that eventually translates into a glorious punch in the gut fit not for television.
Mr Berninger, you have completely ruined me, time and again. They say love is a virtue, do they not? – but know that I will still believe in you no matter what others say.
Just another seven days to go now.
I thought I am not one to care much about leaked albums, but here I am, trying to hold off the temptation for as long as I can. It has been sitting quietly in my hard drive for a few days now, and to be honest, I am not sure if this pointless exercise makes any difference at all.
Because I would still buy the album despite the killer shipping charges that come up to more than a dime; worry if and when it will arrive safely intact as punishment without crime; then listen to it from start to finish, every single fucking time.
Because I would still get a ticket to see them even if it means I may have to drive across town to secure a front row seat; hug it out with other like-minded fans in a hot and sweaty mosh pit; or wait a full ten hours just to watch the band dance onstage like prancing ants for less than a minute.
Because I would still let you into my life: wholeheartedly, immeasurably and for eternity.
So, yes – just take my money, please.
I do not know about you, but answer me this: what if you died today not knowing the true beauty of “Humiliation”, or be embraced by the unforgiving force that is “Graceless”?
I was a television version of a person with a broken heart.
A pause in the air.
As it turns out, my instincts have been gravely wrong all this time. Like a malfunctioning smoke alarm, it beeps annoyingly at unspecified intervals, screams like a witch just as you are about to retire to bed, and does absolutely nothing even when you wave your burnt microwaved dinner under it.
Because for a long while, all was well. Everything seemed to be falling nicely into place – the right words were coming at the right time, untimely delays were turning out to be blessings in disguise. There was simply no reason for them not to. The lucky streak was unstoppable.
I was unstoppable.
I had confidence oozing through my veins; I had every right to be taking charge of the reins.
But all these have been for nought; I am left in shambles regardless. For this is almost fifteen months of hard work flushed down the drain.
I thought I was missing just that one piece of the puzzle to complete the picture. It did come in that perfect size and fit and colour, but once assembled, something – or in this case, nothing – actually happened. I was expecting my first and only pristine masterpiece of the century; instead, all I got in return was an ugly blot of ink smeared to eternity.
So. The subtle, quiet laws of attraction; those tell-tale signs that let you know that things are happening the way they should – these are all bullshit. I must have run out of luck and fortitude midway through, or lost my magic potion of ten gold coins true.
Now I am completely ruined, stubbornly in denial right to the very end. I suspect I must have made quite a spectacularly sore sight: blue skies overhead and around, a very sorry gooey something on the ground.
Next up, I just need to get rid of that ticket I had bought on a whim for a night at the Ally Pally. It may well have been the stupidest thing I have ever done, but then again, I should probably keep it close to heart to remind me of what it once was, and what it could have been.
I don’t wanna get over you.
A careful fear.
As bad habits are wont to do, there may be no good in beginning anew. I can but only try.
29 January 2013
Any one would have thought it a disadvantage to have an album released that early into the new year, and especially in one potentially populated with the most comebacks and returns. Big names are still being feverishly bandied about at the time of writing, with expectations looming higher than ever, but fans of the Local Natives are quick to make confident declarations that the Los Angeles quartet’s latest release, Hummingbird, will have no problems at all scoring a spot in many of the year’s best-of lists.
The band’s return to the fold was celebrated with the unveiling of a few new songs – while the catchy lead single “Breakers” still had the signature sound of the Local Natives, it was the lonely, soaring vocals in “You and I” and the gently pulsating “Heavy Feet” that seemed to set off alarm bells. Gone were the clap-happy tunes and gleeful shoutouts that made up their loud and boisterous debut album Gorilla Manor; in contrast, Hummingbird can best be described as the soft-spoken second sibling – a quiet achiever forever reminiscing about lost loves, cold sunrises and silver dreams.
Sure, there is still the occasional fun little ditty like in “Ceilings”, a brief and simple track that is as sweet as honey on a warm summer’s day – but it is in special moments such as the affecting “Mt. Washington” and heartwrenching “Colombia” that the band seemingly lay bare their souls, building emotional climaxes with thin, fragile falsettos and sad, poignant lyrics that will put a crack to even the hardest of stones.
Admittedly, Hummingbird may not be as easily accessible as its sunnier predecessor, but it is still an album destinied for keeps, and there is no doubt that the Local Natives will continue to set hearts aflutter in years to come.
Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze
9 April 2013
One would balk at the idea of having to listen to a 70-minute-long album from start to finish, but Kurt Vile has apparently found one easy solution to this: he has conveniently bookended Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze with two of the loveliest – though longest – tracks in the album.
And so it is that we find it easy to forgive the co-founder and former band member of The War on Drugs for swaggering by so casually in the almost title track and opener “Wakin’ on a Pretty Day”, his trademark slacker drawl and addictive guitar riffs urging you to tap your feet to the music before long, injecting a generous dose of optimism to kickstart your day.
Well, perhaps there is some truth to what they say: the destination matters not at all, for it is the journey that makes it more than worthwhile. Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze may be full of jammy and lengthy outros, but they are there not just for show: every single note seems to be perfectly placed, unerringly matching with the mood of the moment, your attention wavering not at all. This formula is successfully employed throughout the album, including in the punchy yet graceful lead single “Never Run Away” and the urgent strumming of strings present in “Snowflakes Are Dancing”.
As if to demonstrate what a pretty daze really feels like, Vile rewards us with the dreamy closer “Goldtone”, which seems to paint a lone picture of him silhouetted at sunset, mulling over life’s biggest mysteries with a cool pina colada in hand. We watch on, equally as fixated, as the great ball of fire slowly disappears over the horizon, its graceful descent punctuated by a series of ascending notes that eventually leads the album to a triumphant finale. Simply sublime.
Upcoming releases for 2013:
The National. And The National only. I make no apologies, because nothing else matters anymore. See Metacritic’s release calendar here.