Sunday, March 28, 2010

A To Z: Lemon of Pink - The Books

2003 was a bit of a revelatory year in music for me. It was the year in which I discovered indie music blogs, review sites, and discussion forums. I tracked Pitchfork reviews tirelessly, even going through their archives at the time. I followed Fluxblog updates everyday, downloading whatever new song that was uploaded. Like many teenagers of the time, I grew into adulthood at a time when information availability was expanding and knowledge of new and relevant music seemed entirely too vast to ever attempt to conquer.

Sometime during that year, I read a review about "The Lemon Of Pink" by The Books. Earlier, I had already lost much time during an obsession over the divisive "Ether Teeth" by Fog, a record that I found mentioned through Anticon message boards. A description of The Books sound seemed that it would fall in line with the abstract samples and acoustic instrumentation found on "Ether Teeth"...but you know, this record was actually critically acclaimed and deemed "good" by just about everyone. Therefore it should have been my favorite record ever.

"The Lemon of Pink" isn't my favorite ever, but it is very good. As the spring months have been approaching and the spring weather seems here to stay, I can think of few experimental records from this decade that fit the time so perfectly. The acoustic strings present throughout, the ethereal original vocals that float above the shimmering tones, the random vocal samples that seem to appear out of nowhere, sneaking up on your like a person yelling from across the street. This is a folk album that breaks all folk tradition.

There are few albums that that float by as quickly as "The Lemon Of Pink." From the first female voice stating the title of the record out through "That Right Ain't Shit" and even "PS", this album comes together best as a whole piece. It is rare indeed that one would put a song from this record on a mixtape, other than with the intention of breaking apart whatever the general theme of your mix was. As individual songs, this music is pretty - but doesn't make a whole lot of sense. As a 37-minute album, everything comes together, bleeding into one another, creating memories of past picnics, spring sports, setting suns over the beach.

Perhaps I romanticize this record too much. I don't adore or obsess over this record and rarely listen to it 7 years after it's initial release. However, when I do take the time to listen to it, to remember why I enjoyed it so much all those years ago and the positive impact it had on broadening my listening tastes in the years that came after, I am overjoyed with what The Books have accomplished with this album. It's not a perfect recording and in 2010 there are records that are similar that might do part of this sound better, but it is one of those records that can be conditionally perfect. Sometimes you just have to wait to find that condition.

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LuckyTiger said...

I thought they were pretty conceptually compelling when I first listened to them, too -- something about the absurdity of taking unadorned recordings of folk instruments, then parsing them into discreet samples and sequencing the shit out of them until they were too familiar to sound robotic, but too spooky to sound organic. Very cool band. Smart guys, too -- there's a great interview with them in an old Tape-Op.