Living in the southern hemisphere means the advent of December doesn’t signal chilly winter evenings but icky, oppressive heat. And so while my friends up north are whining in their Facebook statuses about how cold it is, how many inches of snow they have and how much they wish it were the summer, I’m sweating like a pervert in the other side of the world, hating myself and everything around me.
I really don’t get along well with the Buenos Aires summer at all. I hate it. It’s hot, humid and gross. I’ll avoid it at all costs. And to combat it, here’s a few tracks that are part of my anti-summer playlist, designed to keep me cool, air-conditioned and depressed.
Lali Puna- “Faking the Books”
Synthy, sterile, clinical and so very Deutsch. Lali Puna’s album “Faking the Books”, with its hospital vesper beats and backtracked vocal lines, speaks of the quiet despair and almost overwhelming ennui of every day life; a sort of paean to the cyclically mediocre nature of our ever-recycled, monotonous, drab and excruciatingly nonsensical existence. Happy summer, everybody!
The Cure- “Plainsong”
The Cure’s 1989 opus “Disintegration” starts with a few seconds of mysterious windchimes, when all of a sudden a dreamy, hazy, snowy landscape reveals itself in front of us, with the iciest of synth lines, six-string bass, drums crashing like glaciers colliding in the arctic. Robert Smith’s echoey, hushed voice sings about it being “so cold, it’s like the cold if you were dead”, and how “sometimes you make me feel like I’m living at the edge of the world”. If there was ever a love song that managed to make frostbite and the apocalypse sound romantic, of course it’d be Robert Smith who wrote it.
This Will Destroy You- “Happiness: We’re All In It Together”
Eight and a half minutes of glorious winter soundscape, punctuated by delay-laden arpeggios and a seismic sense of musical drama; this song builds, shakes and releases with all the pathos of a three-act screenplay, one that feels more like it was written somewhere in the arctic circle rather than Austin, Texas.
Zola Jesus- “Run Me Out”
This is the exact opposite of a jangly summer song. Blotchy, heavy chunks of synthesizer melody reminiscent of the bleakest songs in The Cure’s “Pornography” (seriously; compare), helpless lyrics about the apocalypse, pungent imagery of darkness and desolation. Zola Jesus is a talented young artist with a bright future ahead of her if she can figure out how to widen the emotional range in her music a bit. She has three full albums and three EPs and as thrilling as her work is, it’s bound to get old fast if she doesn’t manage to bust out her own version of “Japanese Whispers”. A full listen to her album “Stridulum II” will leave you curled up in fetal position next to your speakers. Maybe even speaking in tongues.
Damien Rice & Lisa Hannigan- “Cold Water”
Yes, I am giving equal billing to Lisa Hannigan here because honestly fuck you Damien. This absolutely stunning track from Damien’s debut album “O” shows a lot of promise that would ultimately go unfulfilled; as the years went on and Damien’s career continued, he settled into a cozy, MOR-with-an-edge(kinda) musical rut. This track, though, is lovely, quiet, desolate and sad in all the right ways; coupled with the right drink, it can leave you shuddering for days.