Thursday, June 09, 2011

74. Dream Syndicate, "That's What You Always Say" (1982)


This comes from Dream Syndicate's first (and best) album, which I have somehow found myself able to return to again and again over the long years. The Days of Wine and Roses has always carried the burden of its shreddy Lou-Reed-by-way-of-the-Velvet-Underground influences—but gracefully, I think. They wear that mantle well. I suspect most people who know the album at all will tend to proceed directly to the long track "Halloween," and of course that's a worthy bravura tour de force in its own right with its languorous attack and calculated squalls of noise. But in many ways I think the set finds its firmest footing with this, the third song in, in terms of sequencing. With the moody bass riff that opens the thing, the neat drumkit figure and little tangle of guitar that come along to inflect, and the tremendous spaces created by its escalating dynamics, it's always the point that really starts to catch my attention, if it's been a while, and the point on the album where I start to remember the appeal again. The simplicity and dedication to purpose is impressive. Steve Wynn and his various relationship complaints, pro forma and predictable for the most part, loom out of the haze of these constituent parts like a ghost forever haunted by the textures it finds itself capable of creating, a spirit locked into half-existence, practically reveling in that. No big surprises: verse-chorus-verse-solo as someone somewhere else has characterized these bits of business. Wynn notably apes Reed's ennui in the vocal here, as promised, and the solo may not be particularly lyrical but it's nicely ragged and squealing. Oh yeah, now you're ready for "Halloween."

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