Sometimes there is a song or album that falls right into your lap where it seems to transcend being at the phisically right place in the right time. What could I possibly mean by that statement? Humor me with a short but relevant story…
Imagine finishing yet another Fall semester and Finals Week where your mind basically goes numb. That was me a long month ago. And as I was touching down from a flight into Honolulu, Hawai’i (…I know, #firstworldproblems…) a song from the Irish band Yenkee popped up in my queue from the ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist on Spotify. The title track of this EP ‘Cannibal Tree’ embodies the exact mood of: your-brain-recovering-from-becoming-mush-after-Finals-Week-and-literally-landing-in-the-most–beautiful-and-relaxing-place -you-could-imagine. Now if there isn’t a Spotify ‘mood’ playlist out there for this particular ‘mood’, I’ll be the one claiming authorship/placing this track as the first track in the playlist. To say the least, I am very happy that this song came across my lap in the way it did, but there is more depth to this song than my particular bias, so lets dissect ‘Cannibal Tree’ further.
In terms of soundscape, the track ‘Cannibal Tree’ offers lackadaisical acoustic guitar, bedroom pop drum beats, and a minimalist approach to electric guitars and bass guitars. Which isn’t exactly groundbreaking although popular in its own lane. But first lets consider a couple other factors. For one, and I’ll be honest, the lyrics on this track/others from the EP are a bit dense for my taste. I am one of those listeners from the ‘Tell it to me straight’ end of the spectrum. I admit that could be the result of constantly being in a search for new music or lazy… (most likely the latter). But after listening to this track, I felt compelled to check it out. As is the case for any song I genuinely like. And there are some beautiful themes that I could relate to. And honestly, that’s probably what front-man Graham Cooney was going for. To be considered a musician who takes their work seriously. Especially in this song where he offers the perspective of living with the vagaries-of-life as an artist trying to make ends meets. I got the impression he elaborated the perspective quite poetically. And not to the arrogant-musician-snob affect we get from most egotistical artists. But from the aspect of folding words into beautiful geometric shapes to phrases that shouldn’t actually work. But then reality sets in. And the words are rather deep. Take a listen:
Sure its a new level of self aware or what I’m dubbing: ‘musisian-woke’ by literally invoking the first verse with the lyrics: “Order in italics/Ate at the altar” as if to understand how pretentious that sounds while also admitting that how an artist makes a living is communicating in some aspect of hyperbole. And that’s quirky enough for a modern tragedy.
This is true through other tracks like ‘Pearl’ and ‘Maybe’. But as a whole lyrically, the EP offers perspective about living a young life and talking about love, how it goes cold sometimes, and how sometimes you are able to process it, messily. After listening to the EP one time through, you probably won’t pick up the subtleties of how each song ends and begins from track to track, but Cooney actually does this rather well in my generally snobby opinion. Each song has a slow build, a quirky hook lyrically, and fades away. Visually I imagine him walking across the room, speaking his truth, and picking up his footsteps behind him on his way out. Still leaving a sort of aura behind. Its the kind of blasé approach that weirdly works in this particular scenario. To me, (and I am probably in the minority for this one, like most of my opinions), when an artist juxtaposes dense lyrics with a fleeting attitude, that resembles what should be known as nothing other than a “Mic Drop” without the ‘LOOK AT ME’ attitude.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this EP, and would be happy to hear out what this would sound like for a full album. Check out the title track for this EP first before the other tracks, because the common listener might need to ease into it.
Sounds like : Instrumentation from ‘Unknown Mortal Orchestra’/’The Temper Trap’… but only the stripped back versions plus vocals from ‘Born Ruffian’ had a baby.
Try: ‘Cannibal Tree’ & ‘Maybe’