Our haven on the Southern Point is calling us

Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear will be littering the end-of-year lists of many major critics come December, and I am sure that only a handful of people that have heard the album would disagree with this state of affairs. It seems to be an album that has sent the internet alight these past few months.

I must point out now that my favourite albums are those that set off my indie-fanboy mode, that instill me with a passion that often leads to a case of superlative-itis (for those who wish to study some severe cases of this disease, I advise pitchfork.com). The volume of my voice when I talk about an album I hold dear is proportional to my love of said album. I will never have that passion for Veckatimest for a single reason, and that is that it is a technical achievement, but not an emotional one.

Veckatimest is another album that attempts to create an overall mood, an atmosphere that replicates a certain specified feeling. Given that the album’s title refers to an obscure and sparsely populated island, and that the lyric which gives this blog its title is the opening line of the album, it can be fairly confidently concluded that this feeling is one of seclusion, of safety in nature away from the noise of modern society. Though I certainly approve of this mood, and the skill with which Grizzly Bear created the mood (for they do this quite successfully), I cannot place it amongst my favourite albums because I don’t get excited by the mere mention of their name or by an off-hand subtle reference to their work.

I have a history of not enjoying albums that are techincal masterworks. I cannot fault Sigur Ros’ Agaetis Byrjun, for instance, or Panda Bear’s Person Pitch. They both meet their aim of artfully sculpting a particular feeling in the listeners mind. And yet somehow it feels like a chore to re-listen to these albums. I think to myself “maybe I’ll put this album on” and I always get distracted by music that delivers more than a simple mood. Normally something that delivers multiple, more unpredictable moods and some hooks to go with it too.

Admittedly I prefer Veckatimest to both the albums I just mentioned, because the opening two tracks (“Southern Point” and the oft-talked about “Two Weeks”) are smart enough to have enough in them for you to be remembring snatches of lyrics hours later, yet they keep within the theme of isolation set out by the album as a whole. But as soon as we hit track 3 my mind wanders, appreciating the effort put into creating what has been created, whilst simultaneously clamouring for a little vigor that I can sink my emotional muscles into.

Anyway, that is my two cents of Veckatimest, which alongside Merriweather Post Pavillon will be one of the most talked about albums of the year. But my favourite thus far is the compilation album Dark Was The Night (or at least Disc 1 of it, as Disc 2 is more wearing and inconsistent). It is the complete opposite of Veckatimest in many ways, zipping as it does between contrasting styles as the contributing artist changes. Disc 1 has more weak tracks than Veckatimest, and it lacks flow or an overall mood, but so many of the tracks are complex and enjoyable, cerebral enough to warrant multiple listens yet intense enough to deliver an immediate impact. And, like all the best pieces of music, a single reference to a single track could set me off.

“I’ll run through a thousand parties

I’ll run through a million bars”

So Far Around The Bend ~ The National

Yes, I know, another quote by The National. They’re an awesome band and I love them. Get over it. Anywhere, there are upwards of a dozen gems like that on Dark Was The Night Disc 1 that will do for me what all the best pieces of music do, which is makes me want to talk about them to anyone and everyone (thus the point of this blog is finally explained, hurrah!). I don’t get that with Veckatimest. As noted above, the only way I talk at length about it is when describing why I am not passionate enough to talk at length about it.

For those of you unsure, yes, the previous sentence did make sense. Please move on in an orderly fashion to the next one. Thank you.

Some time soon I will post my top 20 albums of this decade. It’s a list I’ve been vaguely working on for some time, and I even downloaded and bought a few new albums to make sure I don’t miss out on anything I might fall in love with. It will contain much material by Radiohead, TV On The Radio and The National, who have collectively released 10 albums this decade, and will collectively take up at least 8 of the spots in my top 20. If you like indie-rock, I really don’t think you can go wrong with these three bands.

Veckatimest may feature at the nether regions of this list, because I appreciate its achievements and it has a stonking pair of opening tracks. But it doesn’t belong in the same breath as Third, Kid A or Alligator. It just doesn’t. Does that tell you more about my emotional state than I want it to? Maybe. More likely it tells you more about my state of rationality (or lack thereof). But the universe is built on irrationality. So there.


About Alex Pavitt
I work in the field of emotion. My tools are instinctual feelings and my laptop is the medium between my brain and the outside world. I deconstruct and rebuild. I imagine. I steal other people's lyrics because somtimes, my own words aren't enough. I spend all of my time somewhere inside my head. I worship Douglas Adams, and in the back of my mind I am always painfully aware that I will never be as good as him or, for that matter, anybody else.

2 Responses to Our haven on the Southern Point is calling us

  1. Ignus Iudicium says:

    TWO WEEKS. 😀

    • Alex Pavitt says:

      Southern Point is better

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