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The Pop Culture Wing of Hot Corner Harbor

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Music Mondays: "Pierre" by Ryn Weaver

For this week’s Music Monday, we aren’t moving too far from the subject of the last few columns. I actually first heard of Ryn Weaver through the news that Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos would be co-producing her debut album. Upon checking her stuff out, her first single “OctaHate” was enough to hook me.

But while “OctaHate” is a wonderful song (go check it out if you haven’t heard it), I’m not going to be focusing on that one this week. Maybe some other time. Right now, I want to focus on a song that came of her debut album back in June, “Pierre”.

I’ve always had a soft spot for songs with more narrative structures, and by those standards, “Pierre” is a near epic in scope, covering a major string of events of its narrator’s life. Each stanza of the verses comprises a vignette from the singer’s past, all describing the different lovers that she’s found herself with in recent memory. Tying them all together are the choruses, focused on “you”, the second-person one-that-got-away. The disjointedness of the narrative actually took me a little off-guard at first; I was expecting a much more standard love song, and didn’t catch on that they were each their own self-contained stories until the second verse. Also, it’s almost surprising how much Ryn manages to flesh out these supporting characters; each gets just enough detail to make them feel like real people that you can picture.

Musically, the song very closely matches Passion Pit’s style (as you might expect). I have trouble picking my favorite part; there’s the opening, a sparse arrangement that focuses on Ryn’s striking voice with claps and a atmospheric breeze underneath; there’s the big piano chord that rings out at the start of the second stanza; there’s the glassy guitar riff that kicks in halfway through that stanza; and of course, there’s the huge, emotional chorus. The chorus probably deserves its own focus; there’s an incredible forcefulness to it, with Ryn Weaver selling the hell out off its emotion. The words hit on downbeats with the drums, adding punch. Ending each line is a vocal sample that sounds straight out of Sleepyhead.  Finally comes the frantic, crashing end, a rush in and of itself.

And then, the second time through, it just gets bigger and grander, adding a sense of majesty to it all. And just like that, after two cycles, we get a short outro where the song just sort of fades into the sudden nothingness that it burst out of. For as strange a finish as it initially seems for a song of this scale, I have trouble picturing a better conclusion. It’s a perfect bookend to a larger part of a never-ending story.

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