We’re going to take things a little easy today; the weather has just been too nice outside to spend time typing away on laptops, even if it’s about something that we love like music. So we’re going to do a quick piece that isn’t a true “Feats of Strength”, but we’re just going to talk about a moment in a song that we really really really like.
Almost a year ago to the day, Pitchfork ran a feature in which they asked their writers to give stories about particular moments in their favorite songs. I felt that this was a really well-executed piece, and enjoyed reading each of their stories. The anecdote about a unique performance of The Flaming Lips’ “The Abandoned Hospital Ship” was an especially memorable one, and it is definitely worth reading so you get the backstory behind this electrifying moment.
There is no reason why Pitchfork should have all the fun, so I am picking up on their cue and writing about a specific moment in one of my favorite songs, “I’ll Believe In Anything”. It should be no surprise that we here at Rust Is Just Right are big fans of Wolf Parade, considering we were inspired to name our site after one of their lyrics. Their debut Apologies to the Queen Mary is one of the greatest albums of the 00’s, and the climactic run of the trio of “Shine a Light”, “Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts”, and “I’ll Believe In Anything” in the middle of the record matches that the peak of any record since then.
“I’ll Believe In Anything” has a nice stately feel that comes across as almost like a gentle gallop, a sensation that’s matched by the Barry Lyndon-esque setting for the video. The song is punctuated by huge snare hits that accentuate each beat, constantly pushing the music forward as Spencer Krug sings elliptical lyrics about “taking you where nobody knows you and nobody gives a damn.” After a couple of rounds of verses and choruses, the song truly begins to develop with the bridge at about the 2 minute mark, as Spencer begins to list the various things that he can take or give away. At 2:10, the bassline on the keyboard jumps down an octave, giving an added weight to the next set of lines as Spencer doesn’t let up in his singing, continuing to build momentum. It is at this point where there is a subtle shift, a moment where Spencer demands the listener’s attention: “Look at the trees, look at my face, look at a place far away from here.” He lets that moment hang in the air for a second, and then the band explodes behind him.
I’ve listened to this song hundreds of times, and this specific moment has never failed to give me chills. Depending on the circumstances, it can have an even greater impact–I regularly jog to this album, and often this song will come on just as I’m reaching the top of a hill, and I can take a quick moment to actually act out the lyrics and survey the scene around me. There is something to Krug’s particular directions given in the lyrics, which shifts the focus of the audience’s eyes from nature, to humanity, and then beyond, possibly to the future that helps enhance the effect of the song’s climax. Eyes are actually an important motif in the song: the line “give me your eyes, I need sunshine” is repeated throughout as a sort of mantra, which is a wonderfully eloquent way of asking for someone for the necessary help to brighten up your day. This early repeated line helps establish an image in the listener’s mind and gives the latter lyrics of the bridge an added significance. The result is a truly memorable moment whose power never fades, even after hundreds and hundreds of listens.