2009: 15 of the Best. #2…

December 17, 2009

#2 – The Bird and the Bee – Ray Gun

From: Ray Guns are Not Just the Future
Released: January 27, 2009
Label: Blue Note
Buy it: Here.

It may not contain the best song of the year, but there is no doubt in my mind that Ray Guns are Not Just the Future is far and away the best album of the year. Despite some tepid reviews (including a ridiculously dismissive one from those chuckleheads at “Rolling Stone”), few albums worked as cohesively as this one. Greg Kurstin and Inara George are not only fabulous songwriters and arrangers, but George’s voice is one of the finest in music at the moment and is used to deliriously wonderful effect throughout the album. Although it’s hard to pick a favorite track on the record (“My Love”? “Diamond Dave”? “Love Letter to Japan”? “Polite Dance Song”? “You’re a Cad”?), I have to go with “Ray Gun” for all of its melodramatic beauty. Never mind the precious little melody at the core of the song — the way the song adds multiple melodic layers (e.g. “Will someone come and save my life…” and “I want a life, I’m caught under the weight of all my life…”) recalls the adventures Brian Wilson explored in his prime. Add to all this the fact that the song’s lyrics just illustrate a hushed optimism and it becomes almost too much. Few songs manage to stun listeners the way this one does, and that’s to be commended in that it stands wonderfully on its own, but works even more effectively in the context of the entire LP. “What are we to do, where are we to go with all this beauty stretching out behind us?” George asks. Rhetorical question… right?

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