Paperhouse: on “Lovesong”

In 1988, pop culture’s unkempt poster child of doom and gloom and lead singer of British supergroup The Cure, Robert Smith, married his childhood sweetheart — Mary Poole. To honor the occasion, Smith wrote “Lovesong,” perhaps one of the world’s most covered songs.

Despite the fact that musicians such as Adele, 311, Jack Off Jill, Tori Amos, and Death Cab for a Cutie have covered this song, it is perhaps one of The Cure’s weakest. When compared to every other song on 1989’s Disintegration, something isn’t quite right.

It could be Smith’s disregard for his signature three-minute introductions, or perhaps the lack of multifaceted lyrical interpretations, that make the song so boring in comparison to the rest of the album. In “Lovesong,” Smith croons “however far away / I will always love you” over and over again. What happened to the sad, dark, and depressing Smith that we all know and love?

Other songs on Disintegration follow The Cure’s formula of melodic happiness juxtaposed with oh-so-sad lyrics. On “Lullaby,” Smith is afraid of a spider, while on “Pictures of You,” Smith reminisces on a lost love. Despite this shift in formulation, “Lovesong” peaked at number two on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, and has been covered too many times to count.

I guess people love the straightforward presentation of the song: It’s comforting and idealistic. I know Valentine’s Day is coming up, but please, whatever you do, do not play this song. If you’re alone and looking for some good music, check out The Cure’s extensive back catalog.

Also, regardless of your plans for this fantastically commercial holiday that allows Hallmark to stay in business and creates an artificial demand for roses, you should call up your mom, and tell her that you love her.

MMW: Foals

Foals will be played on MMW at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

I can’t remember exactly how I came upon Foals, but I do know it was love at first listen. It was during my math/electro-rock phase (other bands that were getting heavy plays at the time were Klaxons and Kasabian). Foals’ first album, Antidotes, rocked my world. Being a drummer and loving weird beats, this was perfect for my developing skills. I listened almost exclusively to the album and tried to mimic the patterns I was hearing on my set, and it was pretty difficult, since there was a lot of subtle stuff going on. I think that hyper-attentiveness caused me to grow a deeper attachment the album as a whole. My favorite song from that album was, and still is, “Two Steps Twice.” Probably because it has the most interesting drum part, but I also love the ¾ time going into a fucking rockin’ dance beat. So I listened to them for about a year and a half solid.

Then their second album was announced, Total Life Forever. They released the first single, “Spanish Sahara,” and it was quite different from the band I had come to know and love. The song starts out soft and quiet, with not much more than a piano and vocals. I was skeptical. Then the build started to happen. It built and built, and it turned into a beautifully articulate piece. Though it lacked the math-rockiness that I had always associated with Foals, it was amazing. It was Foals, but it was a new, more robust, fuller version. I was taken aback by it, and I was hungry for more; I wanted to know what other changes they had made to their sound, or if this was just one song that showed off that they were branching out a bit. I had to wait a month or so, but eventually their second single dropped, “This Orient.” Here was the upbeat, dance music that I had, admittedly, missed after they released the former single. It still was nowhere near as rhythmically intricate as the stuff from their freshman album, but it showed that they could still make the music I loved them for. All I had to do now was to wait for the album to drop. I was so impatient that I even dropped a bit of extra cash to get it a few days before it was released.

And drop it did. I listened to the first song, and was in love. They had done it. After listening to it again and again, I was convinced that Foals’ sophomore lived up to and even rivaled their first album in terms of greatness. TLF might not quite reach the pure dance/math rock awesomeness that was Antidotes, but it is a great piece of art. It’s also more approachable and accessible than Antidotes was, simply because it’s not dancey and mathy. Today, I think I might actually like TLF more than Antidotes (except for “Two Steps Twice,” which still may be my favorite song they’ve put out). My only request would be for them to FUCKING COME TO PITTSBURGH BECAUSE I WANT TO SEE THEM LIVE AND I’M SERIOUS YOU GUYS.

If you’re interested in hearing a collection of my favorite Foals songs and some very good b-sides and covers by them, tune in to MMW at 5pm on Sunday! I’ve marked up a rough list of what I’ll be playing below:

Astronauts & All (Hummer B-Side)
Two Steps Twice (Antidotes)
This Orient (Total Life Forever)
Hollaback Girl (Gwen Stefani Cover)
Balloons (Antidotes)
Wear and Tear (Miami B-Side)
What Remains (Total Life Forever)
One (Swedish House Mafia Cover)

MMW: tUnE-yArDs

tUnE-yArDs will be played on MMW at 2 a.m. Saturday.

tUnE-yArDs are Merrill Garbus (who sings, plays ukelele, tambourine and drums, and uses a looping pedal) and her bassist, Nate Brenner (and occasionally a saxophone section). Their w h o k i l l album, which came out in April, was my favorite album of 2011.

I’m going to play a few tracks from that album, including “Bizness,” “Gangsta,” “Doorstep,” “You Yes You,” and “Wooly Wolly Gong.” Unfortunately, a few songs from that album — including “Powa,” “My Country,” and “Killa” — are not FCC safe, but I definitely encourage people to check those out if you are interested in this band. I’m also playing a song that doesn’t appear on w h o k i l l but on its own EP, as performed live in the studio for the record label 4AD: “Real Live Flesh.” This song builds off layered nonsense syllables and drum loops made with a looping pedal.

Here are a couple of the tracks I’ll be playing, so you can check them out with minimal effort:

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