Monday, January 16, 2006

What A Shame-Kingsbury Manx

Continuing my occasional and inconsistent series of SoftD based on the top CDs of 2005, I offer this week a single from the Kingsbury Manx, a perennial 3 Bulls favourite. What A Shame is just one particularly memorable and mellow track from The Fast Rise And Fall Of The South, a stellar and massively massively massively underrated album. I don't know if it really qualifies generally as the best of 2005, but it is right up there.

The Kingsbury Manx are kind of hard to pigeonhole. They are soft-spoken, yet occasionally rock out. They play folky music, yet sophisticated and modern sounding. Generally, the songs are downtempo, the guitar work is nuanced and picked, the keyboards are frequently set on organ mode, the drumming is delicate, and the singing is lush and sweet. I can't think of any bands that really sound enough like them to give a useful framework, but some of their songs evoke feelings like those stimulated by artists like The Clientele, Iron and Wine, Radar Brothers, Yo La Tengo, Skygreen Leopards, and Mojave 3.

What A Shame begins in a gentle 6/8 tempo with piano and drums. It's slow dance music people. The kind of song that you generally gaze into your lover's eyes and think about when and how long you are going to kiss them once the song is over. I think what draws me to the song more than the sweet lyrical and lulling melody are the lyrics. It sounds like it is a love song but, in typical Kingsbury Manx fashion, is filled with irony and surprise. Between versus is just a lovely trumpet solo. I love trumpet solos in pop songs; it's always drawn me to groups like Beulah. As each verse continues, the intensity of the voice is just a little louder and slightly more hostile. The slow simmering of a break-up, I suppose. The other distinct feature of the lyrics is that it is read like a novel - an effect I like and one that should be copycatted immediately. Lyrics are below:

A bliss so underrated to me
'oh what a shame' said she
'cause this is what lives
are supposed to be'

A kiss so underrated to me
'come closer' said she
'cause this is what close
is supposed to be'

'I feel so sedated' said she
'some illusion' said me
'cause this is what lives
are supposed to be'

'I feel so sedated' said me
'like I told you' said she
'it's not what lives
are supposed to be'