Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

MUSIC REVIEW: Kimya Dawson's 'remember that i love you'

what i enjoy most about kimya dawson's lyricism - quite apart from the fact that it's at once hilarious and extremely touching - is the way she skates so easily from subject to subject within the boundaries of the same song.

the immediate effect of this seems to me a perfect capture of the flitting modern/young person's mind, with its attention span frayed at the edges by internet surfing, fast editing, multi tasking and video games. we were even in the habit for a while of describing ourselves and each other as 'random' when what we meant was that our thoughts do not hold still. 'monkey mind' the buddhists call it, and we are the generation of monkey mind in excelcis.

so that kimya writes songs to the rhythms of ADD mind, seems to me anomalously current. no-one else has had the temerity or ingenuity to try it. which makes her new record - which is sonically simple, naive and within folk traditions - as essential to now as can be.

but the 'randomness', as much as it works on this surface level, is deceptive. underneath it there is a sly and assured artistry at work. Midway through 'my mom', which is essentially a callow appeal to the ghosts and skeletons haunting her 'sick mom', she moves into a segment song from sesame street, addressing bert and ernie. The effect of this is unexpected and hilarious, but not untypical of the album entire. Such juxtapostions, though seeming haphazard and playful, subtley embolden the emotional thrusts of these songs, and lend them a depth that perfect earnestness and flawless scansion could not.

i shed a tear during 'my mom' - and furthermore - did not cringe at 'loose lips' where kimya takes on both the subjects of self harm and george bush, typically tricky subjects to approach lyrically. any suspicion of pretension or righteousness one might have of another lyricist addressing these subjects is pierced by her apparently artless touch. and so it goes that the songs on this record cut through cynicism with a blade; even mine.

the musical arrangements on the album do not lack wit or vigour either. they are simply recorded in the lo-fi manner we're accustomed to, with acoustic guitar as a base. other instruments (violin/ light percussion/tinkling piano/whistling) are employed sparingly but effectively when need be. and her pure, solid voice is capitalized upon throughout the record - whether up close at the microphone, or looped melodically through sample pedals.

released: may 9th 2006

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  • At 6:15 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Yeah, I'm just listening to it now.

    I'm of two minds about Kimya. Sometimes her innocence feels very fresh, and sometimes it feels very phoney.

    I've seen her perform a few times, and there's something so contrived about her little-girl-trapped-in-the-body-of-a-whimsical-thirtysomething schtick. Like the bunny suits that she's been wearing since she was in the Moldy Peaches, for instance. Or the baby voice she too often affects.

    Sometimes I even find her creepy. Especially since her affect is childlike and proto-sexual, yet she writes about crushes on what seem to be teenage boys.

    But then some songs seem so sincerely felt, and I wonder if I'm too cynical. 12/26, for instance, is a touching little song about the tsunami. And I like the songs you sent me from the new album, Loose Lips and The Competition. Although, some lines still give me pause, such as: "send me an IM / I'll be your friend." Er, I hope the person she's talking to is over the age of consent.

    I just can't decide if she's a creepy pre-Michael Jackson or a slightly over the hill but still touching indie rock naif.

  • At 6:49 PM, Blogger joancrawfordsface said…

    lol. you worry way too much about paedophilia, you. what's your second name again, dworkin?
    kimya, unless you didn't realize is a woman - so in as much as she might write a love song for a teenager (she often writes from persepectives outside her own/ as herself but younger) i wouldn't conclude that she's about to bumfuck them.
    as for the the naivete, i understand it's a matter of taste - but i feel that she's refined this schtick to a fine art. she knows where and how it works, and yes it's phoney...well in as much as it's knowing. she's no daniel johnston, that's for sure...she knows exactly what's going on.
    i read the voice she adopts for her songs as that of a storyteller - an artfully constructed persona through which to filter her fragmented tales. besides - they are laced with heavy irony and unexpected wit; both sure signposts that you ought not to take them so literally. not so literally that you would concern yourself about the sexual morality of the woman that wrote them anyway.

  • At 7:00 PM, Blogger joancrawfordsface said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 7:02 PM, Blogger joancrawfordsface said…

    lol, i just noticed a diplomatic trick you employ when you disagree about something. rather than categorically say 'blah blah you're wrong, you talk shit' like me, you report to be in two minds. you present them both, but one clearly eclipses the other...so what the reader comes to understand is that while you may have reservations, you are in fact of one mind. he judges that dominant mind more credible by the fact that you're willing to balance it.
    tres clever, mister grundy. and i've only just noticed it after all these years.

  • At 8:09 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Heh, I've been accused of rheorical trickery before, but it's always embarrassing to be caught.

    I would like to think her persona is as self conscious as you're saying. And no, I don't think we've got to call the FBI to raid her apartment for child sex slaves. I just think that perhaps she tries to have it both ways. To affect the persona of a teenager, but also to indulge it.

    I'm her Myspace friend, and if her thoroughly adolescent daily bulletins and blogs are part of an elaborate character she's created, she is a very, very consistent and thorough performer.

    And anyhow, I'm sure Michael Jackson earnestly loves his boys, too. ;)

    But I should say that I agree with you about the her exhilirating lyricism (and I would point to a few rappers as having similarly creative, hyperactive lyrical talents, though few others in pop music). A few months ago I saw her do a "secret show" in a loft in Williamsburg with Adam Green, and it was one of the best shows I've ever seen. They both love their music and fans so sincerely, and they are better together than individually (she fares much better solo, but there's a way they complement and rein each other in). So I am a fan and do appreciate her power as a performer.

  • At 8:36 PM, Blogger joancrawfordsface said…

    rappers writing right now, or from yesteryear? i have to say i'm out of touch with hip hop music at the moment; in fact all i hear is the commercial tip of the genre...which i find cliche laden, status obsessed and wickedly sexist...
    it upsets me so much i've tuned my eardrums to fade it out. perhaps if i have the time and energy i'll write a bit about it here sometime.

    as for adam vs kimya...i disagree, i think she shines as a soloist. whilst i liked moldy peaches, it seemed that it was about them trying to make one another laugh. her solo material seems more multi faceted.

    having said that i've only seen her live with adam, but when she comes here next i'll make a beeline.

  • At 8:50 PM, Blogger joancrawfordsface said…

    oh and kimya has a song about michael jackson you know. 'my heroes', it's called and it was on his last record.

  • At 12:29 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    You're right, they were too jokey as Moldy Peaches. I guess I just really liked them together at that one performance. They weren't only doing Peaches stuff, though.

    I've seen her solo a couple times and she's really very good. Though I don't quite see why she still has to wear the bunny outfits.

    Last time I saw her, she gave me a huge bear hug afterwards. I haven't washed since. Though that has nothing to do with her.

  • At 7:07 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    In other Kimya news, I just read a Myspace bulletin about her pregnancy.

    Her sonogram:

    her bulletin:
    wednesday will be 20 weeks (halfway) but the doctor said it is at the size for 21 weeks and everything is healthy and good and in the right place!

    Good for her. I hope the father is over 17! Sorry, that's mean. I'm sure he's like 18 1/2.


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