I am BARRY HESS > Blog


I’ve tried. I really have. Over the last couple days I’ve listened to the latest albums from Arcade Fire and Modest Mouse repeatedly. Both arrived with a lot of critical acclaim. If I had any taste at all I would love them.

I don’t. I felt like I was doing physical damage to my brain while attempting to trudge through the albums. Even though Good News for People Who Love Bad News is probably one of the all time greatest album titles, the fact is I couldn’t understand a single lyric uttered by Isaac Brock. I’m not talking about lyric comprehension, but rather the simple act of being able to hear the words of the songs. (I know, I know. “You kids today with your Dan Fogelberg, hula hoops, zima and your pac man video games.”)

Funeral. Not sure what to say. Nothing grabbed me. I admit, they have a sufficient amount of high hat and kick bass and I could see enjoying a good caper in a club to their live set. But what makes them special? My understanding is this album requires numerous listens before the veil of incomprehension is lifted. I just don’t have the time or inclination.

As I listen to new music, one of two things needs to grab me. Either the music needs to pull me to the lyrics or the lyrics need to be clear enough for me to gain respect for the whole. Ultimately I need both, but only one idea needs to come through to make me listen further. Certainly a whole album doesn’t have to be without let-loose moments of distorted guitar (or trumpet in Mouse’s case), but you need to sufficiently convince me that you have a modicum of compositional and lyrical talent.

So call me tasteless. Call me obtuse. Even call me closed-minded. I’m starting to come to grips with my uncoolness. Though any time I pop in Miles Davis, I take comfort in knowing I am actually, matter factually cooler than you’ll ever be.