Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hooray for Earth - With My Good Eye Closed (Mostly)

True Loves
Worst-case scenario: you forget to pack your glasses on vacation and, on the second day, you wake to find your right contact simply missing from the case.  Who knows how it happened, but the reality now is that the rest of the vacation won’t be anything less than miserable unless you jump through a couple of hours worth of hoops and red tape to obtain a replacement locally.  As you may have suspected, this is the situation I found myself in on my trip to Massachusetts.  After some “Googling” and a few phone calls, I found an optometrist within walking distance who would be willing to provide me with a trial lens.  So I set out on a particularly drizzly morning in Longmeadow, MA with my good eye closed and a recent synth-pop release on the headphones, Hooray for Earth’s slightly psychedelic True Loves
I have an admitted bias towards bands that can reproduce their recorded performance in a live setting, but I also appreciate the amount of mastery it takes in a recording environment to create a really good sounding record.  The listener generally hears music in terms of sound rather than notes anyway, and today, because every sound is available at any time, it is literally impossible to create a convincing sounding recording by accident – a well-defined concept is absolutely necessary.  In this department, True Loves is a success

Merriweather Post PavilionHooray for Earth’s music is not particularly complex or novel, and although there are a couple of songs that are quite good, most of the songs are just OK.  They maximize this relative simplicity, however, by constructing massive synth grooves within virtual echoing hallways.  The album’s overall sound encourages me to listen to the recording as the end product, rather than the live performance.
Perceiving the recording as a primary mode of performance was the key to appreciating Animal Collective’s excellent 2009 release Merriweather Post Pavillion during the Carrollton period.  There was quite a bit of hype surrounding this album when it came out, which I think it generally lived up to.  I had to let go of the band's live persona, though, to realize the strength of the recording.  

My Girls is noticeably more layered, complex, and adventurous overall than the shoegazy True Loves, but Animal Collective does share the constructed studio ambience with Hooray for Earth that was characteristic in the late 80s due to the work of Depeche Mode, New Order, and other synth-pop pioneers.  This soundscape ended up being somewhat incompatible with my distracted and dreary squint-eyed walk to the optometrist in New England last week, though, despite my attempt to deliberately set up an experience with the album.  It was not until later that I had an unintentional “moment” with True Loves, looking out from within the more mechanical confines of an airplane on a summer afternoon flight back to Texas.


  1. See, I told you; music and environment go hand in hand. I like these tunes.

  2. Hey Jeff, thanks for the reflection on recorded vs. live. This is a reoccurring conversation thread in our household. I just want to say mmmm...synth and tasty video. It's like MGMT grew up and began to study plot trajectory. I think hooray for earth is growing on me.