BY BRYN TAYLOR //
Welcome back to Frisson: your weekly guide to all things auditorily aesthetic. In this volume, we’ll be diving into 3 songs from 3 completely different genres. It’ll take a time machine to travel through these 3 song-eras… so let’s get started.
First up on the playlist this week is 911/Mr. Lonely, the 10th track on Tyler, the Creator’s album “Flower Boy”. Released in 2017, Flower boy is Tyler’s 3rd album, followed by “Igor” in 2019. 911/Mr. Lonely (like all the other songs falling at #10 on his albums), is a two part song, starting with a lighter, more sing-song style which is followed by a harsher, more drum driven beat by the end. Using a sample from The Gap Band’s Outstanding, Tyler creates the base of the song’s first part: a piano centered funk piece. Although the chorus includes vocals from Steve Lacy, Frank Ocean, and Anna of the North, the rap verses that surround them are solely Tyler’s voice. This enhances the idea of isolation and loneliness: the song’s central theme. The lyrics in 911 compared to Mr.Lonely are somewhat childish, but still just as clever. They include pop culture references, digs at his own materialistic views, and the beginnings of a longingness for a lover. This is continued in Mr. Lonely. It begins with Frank Ocean repeating the phrase “I can’t even lie, I been lonely as f*ck.” over the sound of a disconnected call. This leads into Tyler’s verse about how empty and solitary he is. The lyrics escalate to the point where Tyler even threatens to commit suicide: “ask me how I’m really feeling, so I never have to press that 911”. The song ends with the cheering and praise from the audience who witnesses this in his recording studio. All together, the piece is incredibly touching and immersive. It pushes on the listener’s sympathy, but also has an insanely catchy hook/groove to it.
Just Like Heaven, from The Cure’s album “Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me.”, was the first song to put the British Alternative rock band on America’s radar. Written by the band’s lead singer, Robert Smith, Just Like Heaven explores a trip to the seaside with his adolescent girlfriend (and soon to be wife), Mary Poole. The song was released on the 5th of October, 1987. Beginning with a drum roll, the song starts to layer on instrumentals. First, the drum line, followed by the base. The guitar joins in playing an easy and light chord progression, while the other guitar riffs. The song oozes with nostalgia, using a “fuzzier mix” of rhythm guitars to enhance this emotion. The song is vibrant, colorful, and upbeat, using descending guitar riffs and repetitive chord progressions to create a simplistic, yet interesting accompaniment for the listener. The song grabbed the attention of multiple other artists, causing it to be covered globally, including Spanish, French, and German.
Copperline, the first track on James Taylor’s 13th album “New Moon Shine”, was released in 1991. Much like the Cure’s Just Like Heaven, Copperline also explores the idea of nostalgia, but rather than that of a past relationship, it is a recollection of Taylor’s childhood in Chapel Hill, NC. The song is whimsical, easy, and eerily peaceful. The intro of the song uses wind chimes, soft guitar picking, and flutes. This creates an essence of sunrise, tranquility, and purity, setting up the innocence of childhood Taylor sings about. The first verse only uses guitar as its accompaniment, but as the song progresses, and Taylor’s younger self grows up, fiddle, drums, and piano are layered in. The song uses samples of old western music to bring in the
ruggedness of the small town he grew up in, but loses that in the bridge, when Taylor discusses the changes in his hometown, “tried to go back as if I could, all speck house and plywood,”. The light hearted fiddle does not re-enter the song until Taylor sings “it doesn’t come as a surprise to me. It doesn’t touch my memories.” This line, along with the repetition of the chorus at the end
of the song, embraces the idea that things will not always stay the same, but with the power of nostalgia, Taylor, along with the listener, can always revisit Copperline in their minds.
The Frisson playlist is now up and running! Find it here: