Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Desperate Bicycles - "Smokescreen" (1977)

Here's a good contrast to the last post. While the verse in "Gotta See Jane" lasts for about thirty-eight seconds, "Smokescreen" starts off with four verses in quick succession lasting a total of only forty-four seconds! The unusual rapid pace of lyrics is something both songs actually have in common. Both are also very tightly constructed. "Gotta See Jane" has a slightly more elaborate harmonic vocabulary, but we can see here that the biggest aesthetic difference between these songs, as compositions, is this structural element.

Those four verses, all with separate text, occurring before you hear the chorus for the first time, make for an amazingly articulate burst of energy. Following that first chorus with four more verses, all once again with new text, just continues to push this song into the stratosphere.

(Also enjoyable about "Smokescreen": the harmonic vocabulary! You hear F minor in the verse as a borrowed iv chord, but then it goes to C minor and Bb major, as though there's a momentary modulation to the flattened subtonic.)

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