Kate Bush - Hounds of Love
Beach House - You Came to Me
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There is a famous quote from Kafka, about what a book should be. It should be "an axe to the frozen sea inside us," he says. At times I wonder if this isn't also true for music, at least some music. There are some songs I find truly upsetting, that I avoid approaching carelessly, for fear of allowing them to needlessly provoke me. Here are two of these songs. Each has a very specific moment that triggers a cold flurry of the nerves, a deep spinal rush, for a reason I can't explain. It's not that I'm reminded of a tender childhood idyll, or a bitter romantic letdown. It's that I feel as if a raw nerve inside me has been struck, one that I have to avoid thinking about too often if I want to be a person and live among others in this world.
1. I don't understand why I have to explain who Kate Bush is to my friends. 'Running Up the Hill' is obviously a classic, but no less spellbinding is the title track from her album 'Hounds of Love.' You know how you hate Tori Amos? Can you imagine if you took all of Tori Amos' characteristics but combined them into a version that you do like? I know, it takes a certain speculative stretch, but you can do it. This song is suffused with dreamy erotic energy and unnameable poetic passions. Also it has cool tom drums. It sounds like she's going to lose her shit while she's singing. The part that freaks me out is when she says "take my shoes off and throw them in the lake..and I'll be two steps on the water..."
2. I also don't understand why no one writes songs as heartfelt and mesmerizing as Beach House does. They make lots of other people's songs sound insincere and calculated by comparison. Also I have a natural disposition towards states of decadent, inonculated melancholy, which makes it quite easy to ride for these guys. This is my favorite song from Devotion, and the first one they played at Music Hall of Williamsburg last night, which forced me to abandon my drink order and rush to the mezzazine to watch. The raw-nerve jolt here is when the song switches into blissful outro mode and Victoria sings, in a tone that more often than not reduces me to tears, "you came to me...in my dreams..and spoke of everything.." The video matches the Beach House vibe quite well, it appears mildly slowed down, glittery, somnabulistic, a velvety opiate lullaby.