Wednesday, 25 November 2015

No Apologies For The Infinite Radness 1.1.6 - "Grazed Knees" (Snow Patrol)

Some songs are night songs.

There is no daytime equivalent. A day song simply doesn't exist. Who could possibly want a day song?  Night songs, though, are something wonderful. These are the songs that sound perfectly respectable when the sun is up, but somehow faded, muffled like they're being played in the next room.  But by night, they bloom. They seem closer. Or maybe it's that everything else seems further away.

"Grazed Knees" is our first night song. In daylight it feels sparse and faint; pretty, sure, but inconsequential. After sundown, though, the sparseness suggests expanse, an echoing off distant hills. The track becomes not just a song, but a place.  Some songs always remind you of a person. Others remind you of what you were doing when you first heard them. This one, though, waits patiently for you to be in the place and time that it needs from you before it blossoms, anchoring itself there indefinitely.

Doubtless this is a feeling strengthened by my own circumstances; I bought this album in the autumn of 2003. I listened to it driving across the high moors through low clouds (maybe it was fog; out there there's never any way to tell), on the way to a rendezvous with my old friends in a pub beside Rosedale. The Lion Inn is on the highest point of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. Sound works differently up there. It was night when I did it, but then it was Christmas, night was really all that was available. The desolation fitted the beginning stages of the song perfectly; the chiming, echoing guitar an expanse for Lightbody's vocals (employing his standard trick of earnest simplicity) to fill. A giant leap, as he puts it. The moors of Yorkshire and Scotland, talking to each other from very far away.

Even once other elements swim upward to break the surface (lush strings, a second guitar, restrained but insistent drumming), this feeling of minimalism is maintained, which is no mean feat. In part this is down to the structure of Lightbody's vocal track. The verses are slight, but the chorus is almost absent - twelve syllables in two lines, making this feel more haiku than pop song.  The chorus doesn't even create weight through repetition; there's not a single word used twice in the choruses until after the middle eight, and even then it's just "just".

The result is a song that doesn't show interest in building itself into a solid structure. It doesn't lay foundations, it sketches shapes in the mist. It pays for its fragility in the end, collapsing after just 161 seconds into a repeating string sample skipping like a literal broken record. The song doesn't end, it breaks down. As though it were someone who had leaped a great distance, and not been caught, and found itself broken and cold out on the moors, where there is no-one around to fix you.

No comments: