April 3rd, 2009 8:52am
Close Harmony With The New World
I believe that on a fundamental level, all forms of creative expression are communicative in nature, and that most of my interest in art and music comes out of my desire to understand and relate to other people. This is probably part of why I love James Rabbit so much — this notion of writing music to communicate what we cannot convey in everyday human interactions is foregrounded in the majority of Tyler Martin’s songs. At least half of the songs on his band’s new album Perfect Waves are concerned with not only expressing emotions and ideas in music, but in revealing his desire to communicate with total clarity, and for the songs to have utility in the lives of his listeners. (The opening song, for example, is “If You Can’t Talk About It, Sing About It!,” which may as well be the band’s mission statement.)
Writing about writing can often result in a tedious strain of postmodernism, but Martin is like a reverse Charlie Kaufman, using his self-awareness as a way of directly expressing his wish to fully overcome shyness and dysfunction, and his verbal prowess to plainly articulate his unambiguous love for his partners and friends, and his goodwill toward total strangers. Despite the anxieties at the core of Martin’s writing, James Rabbit make some of the most optimistic and ecstatic music you will ever hear.
In just about every song, Martin rejects childish, cowardly misanthropy, and embraces the challenge to improve himself and become a better, more outgoing person. “In Love With The Idea,” one of the band’s best compositions to date, takes on the stress and confusion of wanting to connect with strangers in public places, but comes out sounding groovy, open-hearted, and vaguely Muppet-esque in its many joyous peaks. It’s not empty perkiness — the lyrics very realistically grapple with the neuroses that keep us from making social risks, but the music makes a strong argument in favor of the thrilling rewards that can come when we have the bravery to take big chances.