Northern Lights

The whole point of this song comes at two-and-a-half minutes and lasts for the minute until it finishes. A kind of fan-hatched synth-sound that gives me a mental picture of space geometrically folding in on itself, black prisms manifesting out of the air and disappearing back into nothing, leaving white linear scars behind them, it’s fantastic. A many-angled screech-hum that appears after the second chorus and takes over.

There are many, many songs that really exist only as support systems for good bits. The Wilco song I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, a much-acclaimed song from a much-acclaimed band on a much-acclaimed album, for me is an elaborate lead-up, a preparatory exercise, for the piano bit that comes in after the main chorus. That’s what it’s all about. The whole seven minutes, some of which I don’t like at all, are an excuse for the good bit. Loads of songs are the same, excuses for the good bit, that gather kudos without anyone ever pointing out the seemingly obvious. Leonard Cohen wrote, self-deprecatingly, about Last Year’s Man: “I like the children in this version. I always wait for them if I have to listen to it.” In the short hit of a pop song you get your endorphins where you can.

Everything before that? Oh, it’s good enough. It comes in hard, with the chugging baseline that for the most part is the song’s structure, and a female vocal sounding sort of passive-aggressively aggrieved, if that makes sense. The immediacy of the bass makes for a nice contrast with the previous track, Disco Compilation, but until I wrote this it hadn’t occurred to me that the lyrics on that one are important and the lyrics on this one I’ve paid no attention at all. “Coming up for the Northern lights, leave it all behind,” is all I can quote, and that’s the chorus. When the chorus comes in there’s a nice falling arrangement of synths, these seeming a kind of wire-frame blue to me, and it’s all my kind of thing. But it’s not about the verse, or the chorus, or the lyrics, or the vocals. It’s about that last minute.

Artist: Kate Boy

Title: Northern Lights

Compilation: Coyote Summer

Track: 02

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