LongRoad – Breathe
Genre: Power-Pop, Indie Rock
Cute things are the magnet that keeps most industries together. It’s no secret that whenever a business looks set on being taken to the cleaners, the marketing team just suggests dropping a puppy or a baby in the advertisement. They do this for no other reason but to intimate that the people who are not moved by this subtle ploy are monsters.
LongRoad’s power pop works in much the same way. Not liking these fine, sweet guitar and vocal melodies cast serious doubts over your character and judgment. Cuteness, after all, has the same effect on normal people that a bottle of alcohol or a half-naked body has on delinquents and degenerates. It sells!
LongRoad’s “Breathe” is a tune that, on first listen, digs into the American pop tradition of writing great songs of freedom around cute melodies. Listen to it closely, and you’ll find some grit and even a fair bit of despair in this. But you shouldn’t mind. If the plans work as they should, you have already decided you enjoyed this the moment you hear those alluring vocal lines. Hum it and accept that gritty rock can be cute, too.
Leezy – The Dress
Genre: Dream Pop
Just what is singing? If you were to base your entire opinion on the popular and terrorizing television shows that have been doing the rounds for the past few decades, you shouldn’t be blamed for believing that singing is a magical gift that only a few possess. And you could also start thinking, genuinely, that all those who cannot do a clean karaoke version of “My Heart Will Go On” ought to pipe it up for all of eternity.
But that’s baloney. There’s something about the human voice that can transfer emotion like no other instrument can. More interestingly, it is when the human voice tries to disguise itself, or when it is tasked by some producer with doing this, that it loses its particular warmth. The singers who have understood this are the only ones worth listening to. The karaoke singers are meant to only entertain their friends at the bar on a Saturday night.
Leezy’s “The Dress” is brilliantly sung, but the pitch control or tone is less important than what the human element reveals here. You won’t need to speak English or, like Leez, to be a fan of Lana del Rey. It succeeds because you will know exactly what the song might be about from hearing the singer’s breathy voice and from taking a sip of the emotion with which the song is loaded. That’s music, and fortunately, it does not belong on television singing contests just yet.
Salvador Dali used to say that if his paintings are truly imbued with great meaning, then that should be obscured to him while doing the work. In his mind, the greatest messages that art can transfer to audiences defy simple, logical intuition. Leezy’s music works in much the same way.
There are times in everyone’s life, not merely in the existence of artists, when regular actions seem to carry with them an almost poetic kind of symbolism. Life is not just what is shown to us, but especially that which is hidden. That’s something we assume to be true, but there are only a few art forms that can truly bring those hunches to life.
Leezy’s “The Dress” is a great piece of symbolic pop music. The things that are shown and said are less important than everything else that seems to be hiding behind these sounds. Musically, the song is led by the singer’s expressive, trembling voice and by a lush, dreamy soundscape that invites brave exploration.