As some of you may know, Chicago has been assaulted by potholes this winter. They’ve hit me pretty hard — not too long ago, Lara and I drove over one and instantly got a flat tire, and then, a week later, I drove over another one that simultaneously knocked my rear-view mirror out of its socket and killed my tape player. Since then, it’s been all radio, a great proportion of which has been top-forty radio. I find that top-forty stations, sonically speaking, are much more avant-garde than adult alternative stations or indie-rock stations. Songs like “Calabria,” “No One” by Alicia Keys, or even “See You Again” by Miley Cyrus, are fairly adventurous productions. With this week’s track, “Twisted,” I’m aiming for that general football field…. a paranoid-yet-club-friendly obsession song that Kelly Clarkson or Britney Spears might sing.

Partially in response to last week’s comments, I wanted to write something with a bridge section that really delivered the goods. For inspiration I looked to “Since U Been Gone,” as that much-beloved track packs a lot of power-chord goodness into a pop format.

The lyrics may sound fairly pedestrian, but believe me when I tell you that I wrote five pages worth of lyrics and trimmed and edited until I was left with what you now hear. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s damn hard to tell a straight story.

Finally, I tried to leave more space in this arrangement, due in part to my feelings after the Baby Teeth show Friday night at the Empty Bottle. I felt like there was not quite enough breathing room in some of the new tunes… the arrangements felt over-eager. So this one is trying to be ever so slightly more in the cut.

10 Responses to “Twisted”
  1. James Smythe says:

    Jesus, you really weren’t joking about the ‘pop’ thing, were you?

    Right, first thing is, I don’t think you should worry about the lyrics. I honestly didn’t even notice them first time around, which might concern you (or not) given the work you put in, but I think that is almost the point, yet when I did listen intently to them, third listen, I thought they were great and fitted the song perfectly. I couldn’t give a shit what Umbrella is actually about, or how much Kelly Clarkson can’t breathe without me: in those songs the lyrics are a means to an end, I always think, just a way of driving the melody. And the melody here is fricking sublime. This totally pops. And last week, speaking about the climax, this has it. The chorus leaps up perfectly, and then you have that absolutely awesome breakdown/middle-8, where everything drops out but the drums and that filthy bass (which feels like you’ve been inside my head to the section marked “Things I love in POP”, honestly).

    Love the strings bit at the start, and the ways it comes back. Love the way the breakdown pauses and holds before coming back in. Love the way that you spit Twisted by the end of the song. Love the final bit, where more keyboards come in and overdub everything. Love the way that, even with the choruses doing their job of lifting the song to that special place, the whole thing builds and builds.

    If I heard this on the radio I would buy it regardless of who recorded it, making it one of those fantastic crossover songs where the songwriting renders the artist unimportant. Bravo: I have a new favourite song for the week.

    [I really, really wish I could have heard these songs live. But then, I live thousands of miles away. Any chance if you do another gig of demo songs you’ll record it and stick it up here?]

  2. Lara says:

    OH YEAH! This really takes me there. The bridge rules. The crescendo of the bridge rules. The whole song rules. Impossible to sit still while listening to it. I *almost* agree with James about lyrics, but good lyrics matter when they climax at the same time a song does, like when a phrase or a word gets really accentuated by the music or the pacing (with this song, I like “that’s when it hurts”- it really hurts, and another example is the drawn out “Pleee-eee-eee-eeease/love me do” in the Beatles “Love Me Do”). Speaking of lyrics, the only criticism I have is that this girl would not be driving a big black Buick. I would suggest another hot two syllables: Jaguar? Corvette (a nod to Prince)? LeBaron? (Just kidding)

    The moral of the story: Potholes pay!
    BTW- James, where do you live?

  3. James Smythe says:

    I live in sunny old Cardiff, Wales, the United Kingdom. Miles and miles from Chicago.

    Mustang has two syllables as well.

  4. Yeah man, just…yeah man.

    I heard that Empty Bottle show was a real 52Teeth-fest.

    ETA on the next tour that’ll take you south about five hours?

  5. The Bubble King says:

    Right now I’m kinda speechless, I’ll have to get back to you on this one. I’m sitting at Carribou editing audio and this was a nice break.

  6. Abraham says:

    Sorry about the delay everyone…. I meant to write sooner. In the immortal words of Rob Thomas, “I wish the real world would just stop hassling me.”

    James: Cheers! I’m psyched that this one fired up all your cylinders. As far as the lyrics issue goes… I’m actually glad that you didn’t notice the lyrics the first time around. Speaking for myself, I always notice when lyrics feel wrong. If I’m allowed the pleasure of being fully absorbed in the song, then it means the lyrics are working. And thanks for your kind words on the middle eight, but again… that was all Kelly, baby! (And a little bit of Axl Rose.) Interesting idea on posting live footage…. Baby Teeth have always had a paucity of live video, for whatever reason, but it’s on my to-do list.

    Lara: Yeah, perhaps she wouldn’t be driving a Buick. I guess when I was writing it, I thought it would make her more bad-ass if she had a not-so-nice car, but still had tons of game. I guess it would make it a tighter story if she had a Jag, a ‘Vette, or a ‘Stang.

    P M S: Good man, good!!! Yeah, our show on Friday featured tons of these new songs, and it was very educational indeed! As far as touring the ‘Lou, it might be a little while since we’re feeling sort of burnt out, but… never say never.

    B B King: Happy editing, my friend. Caribou Coffee is excellent; I’m a fan.

  7. James Smythe says:

    I actually just meant audio recording, to hear the songs develop a bit – I can only assume most of these won’t make the eventual album, and there’s so many that I would love to hear fleshed out. I won’t say not to video, but I’m guessing audio is that little bit easier…

  8. Aimee says:

    This is the kind of song I want to be playing at my the ultimate dance party on my 30th birthday! I can’t sit still and it’s striking that nerve, that insatiable desire to drive around all night in my convertible (ha!) in Vegas?!? What’s up Britney! Yahoo! Awesome, Abraham.

  9. Katie says:

    I love, love, love this. Every time I hear this song, my desire to go on a road trip somewhere (anywhere) is almost uncontrollable.

  10. Abraham says:

    James: Got it…. yes, audio would be cool as well. Perhaps even more revelatory, since we couldn’t compensate with wicked dance moves.

    Aimee: Good, good. If you are driving around in Vegas in a convertible (a Buick convertible, that is) waving to Britney, then you’re in a good, good place.

    Katie: Well that’s some good news too. Implanting a desire to go on a road trip in another person is a subversive act. And subversion is my game!!!

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