19 FebThere IS a spark on this dampened floor
On Friday, I saw Frightened Rabbit play what may be prove to be one of the last (officially advertised) small-venue gigs in the UK. Why?
Their new album, Pedestrian Verse, is quite possibly one of the best examples of songwriting I’ve ever heard. And I’m not alone – Zane Lowe broke an unspoken rule of Radio 1 by playing the latest single, The Woodpile, not once, not twice, but three consecutive times. Very cool; Arenas beckon.
It really is a rather magnificent tune. As a songwriter myself, I can’t help but wonder what makes it tick – it definitely conforms to a well defined template in pop writing, though it’s peppered with little idiosyncratic moments.
From the fact that the main riff is in 9/4 (or 5/4 + 4/4 if you prefer), yet sounds completely even and comfortable; the extra tail-bar turnaround at the end of each verse to propel the listener into the pre-chorus; the classic extended plagal cadence into the chorus; the heavily syncopated guitar solo… And while I could delve further from a technical and a theoretical point of view, it still doesn’t explain that particular magical quality that is irrevocably intertwined with every note in a truly great song.
I suppose what I’m getting at is threefold:
1) Listen to this album – whether you’re a musician or not, I’m quite certain you’ll find something within it to adore.
2) There are ‘rules’ and ‘templates’ in music, and despite what some people will tell you, they’re prevalent for a reason – they make an excellent foundation on which to build your individuality upon. In fact, what makes you a unique writer is often highlighted when your audience has a familiar paradigm to reference.
3) No matter how hard you try, you can’t manufacture honest inspiration.
In today’s mainstream music scene of X-Factor dolls, and corrupted Ed-Sheeran clones, I find this to be particularly comforting.