erasing clouds

Sweet Trip, You Will Never Know Why

review by dave heaton

The cover drawing may be of a computer disc, appropriate for this future-looking band and their generally electronic atmosphere. But it’s really a razor blade; a sign of the album’s essence. It’s really a heartbreak album, or a break-up one even, that uses two voices, male and female, to capture conversations and arguments that add up to a spiral downwards. This is atypical in so many ways: 1. A heartbreak album this lovely-sounding, this pretty. 2. A heartbreak album this musically complicated and surprising, even innovative. 3. A heartbreak album that captures genuine struggles so well, without cliché.

It starts out spunky, sad but hopeful, and then gets more dire, even bitter before coming to a kind of resolution. A turning point towards both darkness and acceptance is “Darkness”, the sixth and poppiest track. There’s still a sad feeling but in terms of countenance it’s as sunny as sunny gets: up-tempo, up-motion, melodic. There’s a key moment of realization, of facing the cold hard facts, wrapped up in bubblegum: “darkness comes to help me believe / that we can never be together / sorry you have lost your mind / please don’t make me waste my life / so long / dad a da / dad a da. At seven minutes the song is epic, it jams and bubbles up with force, and is souped up on harmonies and sing-alongs. Near the end is a bridge to resignation, built around the declaration, “I will never fall / I will never fall in love again.”

Like every Sweet Trip album, You Will Never Know Why is a surprise. Each recording of theirs is different from the other, and each has a better grasp of sound, melody, and mood. They take a Stereolab space/lounge base and make it lush, rich with harmonies, also often maintaining a level of My Bloody Valentine haziness while keeping things crisp. There’s a touch of old-fashioned vocal pop tune, but within a sweet pop song sharp guitars will rush in. The music takes drastic turns upward and downward without losing steam or clouding the vision. There will be a lovely sullen moment and then an up-sounding burst about getting beyond the sadness. During the part of the album when it starts to feel like a survival tale, the song offers perspective on the persistent of trouble but also the passing of time: “pretty soon you’re dead.” Who else could make such a potent bubblegum pop song, call it “Misfortunes Are Cruel”, and load it with such raw, pointed self-criticism?


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