A Discussion Of Various Lyrics From Songs By We Are ScientistsI'm a pretty massive We Are Scientists fan. I first encountered them about two-and-a-half years ago when I was looking up Lonely Island videos. I stumbled across the music video for "After Hours", directed by Akiva Schaffer (the "Kiev" addressed in the intro to the "I'm On A Boat" video), and instantly I fell in love.
For the uninitiated, "After Hours" was the lead single off their second album, "Brain Thrust Mastery". It was pretty well-received, and for good reason; the song kicks ***. Take these lyrics:
"We're finally drunk enough that / we're finally soaking up / the hours that everyone else throws away / and if we have to go now / I guess there's always hope that / tomorrow night will be more of the same."
There are two sentiments that these lyrics convey beautifully - the solitude the speaker is sharing with his partner, and the longing he has for this moment to last. He's "finally" reached his temporal and emotional apex, and he can only "guess" that he'll get another shot at it. That leads straight into the chorus:
"This night is winding down but / time means nothing. / As always at this hour / time means nothing. / One final, final round 'cause / time means nothing. / Say that you'll stay. / Say that you'll stay. / Say that you'll stay."
His partner/date/whatever is trying to leave, probably because she's tired (and because, as an earlier verse notes, they're being shut out of some bars because of how late it is) but obviously he doesn't want her to go. His only recourse though, is to shrug off the emotional importance of the moment. "Time means nothing," he says three times over, trying to slide it in between his other statements. By the end of the chorus, though, he's being more direct and honest: "Say that you'll stay", repeated (very emotionally) three times in a row. It could be an inner monologue, or it could be a request, but the intent is very clear: in spite of his claims to the opposite, he very much values this time and wants it to continue. It's reminiscent of a line from "Playback" by Raymond Chandler: "There are sublime moments - even if they are only moments."
And so the night must end, which, fittingly, it does, right at the song's musical (and emotional) crescendo.
I ran out and got the album the next day. I popped it in and got hit by the low-octave synth-blast of the album's first track, "Ghouls". I loved this track immediately; its droning, downtrodden melody, backed mostly by the repetition of a single line - "We all recognize that I'm the problem here" - invoked a dreary, emotionally-suffocated state that the speaker is underscoring with his ironic repetition of that line. Listening to the lyrics at all, it becomes painfully obvious that he doesn't mean it; he's just drolly parroting accusations. Anyone who's been in a fight knows that tactic.
I'll be the first to admit that, while I love this album, it's not perfect. While the use of repetition in early songs is stellar, reaching its conceptual zenith in " Tonight" - the music slowly grows more and more chaotic as the speaker encourages someone, over and over again, to "just down another dose" because "understanding is the last thing [he wants] done" - it hits a hard low in "Chick Lit", with the speaker senselessly repeating that he "asked you nicely once", but he "won't do that again." We got it the first time, buddy.
Still, I love that the album tried to work tried to take traditional pop, with repetitive sounds and structures, and use it to tether the songs together along a single emotional thread. Even if the speaker in "Tonight" is an irredeemable monster, you know by the context the album provides where his issues come from, which lends the song an additional emotional heft. You instinctively know why, at the end of the song, he says "I promise to remember that making promises is always a mistake."
Also, I just love the line "Your intentions are transparent. / Am I making myself clear?" That line alone would be enough to make up for any of the album's sins.
CoffeeAndBrunch 18-21, M 3 Responses 1 Jun 13, 2011