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My Pleasure, It’s Guilty: “Thumbs” by Sabrina Carpenter

[Sometimes, there are songs that are so deeply infectious and fun that you just can’t say no to them despite what your judgment screaming out “This is Christawful! What are you thinking!” This is one of them]

If you’ve ever listened to a Dodgers game on the radio, you’ll know they play some weird-ass shit sometimes coming back from commercial breaks. It’s fun getting to hear Charley Steiner transition back into the game over some heavy-thumping rap, really, but sometimes they like to tie the theme of the song into the goings-on of the game.

In this case, the Dodgers were playing pretty bad baseball on the offensive side, having left what felt like 30 men on base through the first few innings. And so when they came back from break, with the Dodgers coming up, I got my first taste of Selena Carpenter’s ridiculous-ass “Thumbs.” Because, obviously, leaving scoring opportunities all over the field like dog shit in the backyard is very much a form of twiddlin’ them thumbs (skiddly dee dum dum).

And the song straight-up stuck with me. Its ridiculous hook and bouncy beat had worked their way through my porous membrane of musical cynicism and proceeded to sit on my face and wriggle for the next few days–through which I resisted the urge to further discover just what the hell this “Thumbs” song was all about until I finally threw up my hands and said, “Okay, let’s get down with this.”

From reading the lyrics, which usually isn’t a good idea when it comes to guilty pleasure songs, it’s apparently, ostensibly, about complacency and the onset of ennui that comes thereof and fighting back against it. Or something. It’s kinda also muddled nonsense.

My favorite part of the song is the 6/8 breakdown toward the middle where she really drives home the whole “Don’t believe everything you hear, you do you boo boo” theme of the song. It’s a nice few seconds before she gets back into repeating the chorus.

It’s a fun-as-fuck song but it definitely has a short half-life for me as with most guilty pleasures (except for HOFers like Cherub’s “Doses and Mimosas” that just went ahead and became a part of my playlist). I’m sure I’ll be sick of it shortly but, for now, it’s a fun song to dance around in my panties to screamin’, “I’m a liberated motherfucker!!”

Late to the Party: Mumford & Sons

I don’t know why I’ve never listened to them, honestly. Ever since I started using Last.FM, they’ve been one of my recommended artists, constantly tied sonically to other bands that I enjoy, but, honestly, they’ve never stuck with me.

When I first got Spotify, I tried to listen to them again and I can remember thinking, “Boy, I don’t know why I don’t listen to them more…” They had a decent thump and their singer sounded kind of like Chuck Ragan.

I enjoyed it and intended to listen to them again but… then I forgot. They sounded cool, but there was just no shrapnel left over when I turned it off. There was nothing that really hooked me or called me to listen to them again.

Then, well, a couple weeks ago I just kind of gave up and put on Sigh No More, trying to get into it. I know that their new album, Babel, just came out this past September, but I’m also a huge proponent of the sophomore slump–not to mention, I figured I should start with the album that garnered them so much acclaim in the first place.

So after listening to this album off and on on repeat for the past two weeks or so, this is what I’ve come up with:

They’re a one trick pony, but it’s a pretty good goddamn trick.

All of their breakdowns, and a lot of their buildup is based around a heavy bass drum and banjo jams. They do this in three of the first four songs, the best of which being “Roll Away Your Stone.” But then listen to “Roll Away Your Stone” next to “Little Lion Man” and you’ll see that the album doesn’t travel very far.

But, again, it’s a good trick. As a result, though, after those four songs or so, you begin to get the sense that you know how the rest of the album is gonna play out–more of the same, and probably another ballad or two.

The only reason I continued listening to them is that I realized that Marcus Mumford is an incredible lyricist who can really spin some gems:

It seems that all my bridges have been burned,
But you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works
It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart,
But the welcome I receive with the restart “Roll Away Your Stone”

or…

Love it will not betray you
Dismay or enslave you, it will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be
There is a design, an alignment, a cry
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be “Sigh no More”

edit:

Now that I’ve listened to the album a few more times, I think I definitely like it, even though it’s a little repetitive… I think what helps is that I wasn’t listening to the radio while “Little Lion Man” was playing non-stop, too. 

[12/9/12]