SOUNDTRACK: CLUES-Clues [CST057] (2009).
This is another of my favorite recent Constellation Records CDs. Clues remind me of Mercury Rev, if they had remained a more indie/underpolished band instead of their more recent orchestrated pop. The lead singer sounds a but like Jonathan Donahue (and sometimes Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips) and the band in general plays the sort of unusual pop that these bands have made common.
Every song on this disc is a winner. It’s even hard for me to pick a favorite, although track number 8 “Cave Mouth” (I have no idea what the songs are about lyrically) is just fantastic: great musical riffs, great breaks, infectiously catchy melody, and yet the whole thing feels just a hair off balance. It’s sublime. And the rest of the disc works in a similar way: things are a little off kilter, but that make you listen even harder to find out what’s going on.
The best example of this is the last song: “Let’s Get Strong.” The song is a pretty, simple piano ballad. It’s very catchy and quite pretty. But a few measures into the song, you become convinced that the piano is out of tune. And as you listen attentively, you can’t decide what’s going on that makes the song sound off. And by the end, you’re hooked.
Clues is definitely a quirky band. And yet they are not offputting. They’re just following their own muses. And we’re all the better for it.
[READ: September 28, 2009] “Temporary”
This story concerns two women living in Los Angeles. They met when they were both applying for a temp position. Shelly, the more outgoing of the two invited Vivian to live with her in her new place. The rent is cheap. The only problem is that it’s a room in a factory, and technically it’s illegal, so if the police ever come they will be evicted on the spot.
And so, the title really conveys the lives that these women lead.
While Shelly’s back story is not really divulged, we learn a bit about Vivian and her upbringing. When she was young her mother became very ill. They assumed she wouldn’t make it, but, amazingly she pulled through. This incident of more or less self sufficiency led Vivian to lead a rather sensible life, growing up faster than she probably should have. As such, she is constantly surprised by Shelly’s behavior and lifestyle.
When Vivian landed the temp job, Shelly gave up her job hunt. And yet Shelly always seems to be able to make the rent with no trouble. She also has a habit of giving Vivian anything that Vivian complemented her on (which makes Vivian uncomfortable). Shelly also walks around the apartment in loose robes, and tends to leave her “boyfriends” lying around the same way she leaves her extra cash lying around.
It’s Vivian’s temp job that provides the emotional heart of the story. She works at an adoption agency transcibing the interviews of prospective adoptees. One couple in particular grabs her attention. The man seems like a bully and the wife seem too deferential to be healthy. Since she listens to their tapes over and over for transcription purposes, she gets the man’s voice ingrained into her head. It is inevitible that she will encounter these voices in real life, but the where and how are too good to spoil.
The main plot ends before the story ends. The ending is a coda that ties the whole story together. It feels extraneous at first and yet upon reflection it works very nicely to wrap up the story.
This was the first story I’ve read by Marisa Silver, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.