It is bouncy and poppy with some nice tempo changes. It could easily fit onto any Shins album.
The original (I’d never heard of Tenement Halls) is very similar to The Shins’ version. The big difference is that it doesn’t have The Shins’ vocals and musical sensibilities. The original feels kind of flat, the highs just aren’t as high. But it serves as a good stepping off point for the cover.
[READ: March 30, 2012] “Chapter Two”
This story is about A.A. But, amusingly, Hil is tired of telling her own stories at A.A., so she starts telling the story of her fifty-something alcoholic neighbor (with the wonderful name of), Bergeron Love (the story is set in Houston).
Interestingly, no one at A.A. complains that she is talking about someone else (in fact the blind guy just seems to smile politely). This is just as well because Bergeron’s story is pretty funny. Bergeron arrives at Hil’s door, stark naked and invites herself in. This is not atypical for Bergeron who crashes neighborhood parties and plays ridiculous pranks. But not everything she does is funny: she also reports overgrown lawns and loose dogs.
Hil lives with her son and a roommate, Janine. Janine is a very fat woman (see my diatribe about fat characters yesterday). But Janine is not the victim or the pity-case in this story (well, maybe a little). Hil figures Janine must eat all day to be as big as she is, but she has never seen her eat. But then Hil’s son, Jeremy, a shy teenager enjoys playing video games with Janine more than going out with his peers (and more than being with his mom, I believe).
Another Bergeron story concerns her reporting a neighbor to Child Protective Services and the neighbor getting revenge on her–by egging her house, smashing her car and tormenting Bergeron’s own son (who has since grown up and moved to Austin).
The story itself jumps around to various Bergeron episodes, like the first time that Bergeron came over, drunk. This was back when Hil was still married and her husband still seemed to like her. Bergeron announced that she was running for office. It’s a very funny scene.
But the story mostly focuses on that nude evening. Hil calls up Bergeron’s house where her boyfriend Boyd (clothed, thankfully) finally answers the phone and deigns to cross the street to pick up his woman.
As the story ends, we see Hil looking for a new meeting to go to so she can tell new versions of these stories.
What I especially liked about this story was the A.A. bookend. That while Hil was complaining about the extroverted antics of Bergeron, she was really no better herself. There were some very nice details (like the way that Bergeron’s story is wrapped up) and overall it was very solid.