Tuesday, January 4, 2011

This Week on Audiosurf Radio – Effervescent Puns Edition

heiferI like puns.  I recognize that they should be rationed out; no one should be subjected to too much G-rated wordplay.  But there’s something a little endearing about mediocre jokes based on a few words that sound similar.

Take this week’s band for example: Heifervescent.

That’s right: Heifervescent.  It’s the solo project of one Andy Doran, a British musician who’s been playing in bands since the 90s.  You can hear that decade throughout his music, which falls neatly into the space between pop and rock (assuming you can differentiate between those terms anyway).

Before we discuss the music, let me remind you once more of this outrageous pun: Heifervescent.

The Songs

audiosurf magnetizedThe thinly distorted guitars and sliding vocals of “Magnetized” warrant comparisons to early Foo Fighters.  Sure, you’ll never mistake Heifervescent’s thick English accents for Dave Grohl, but there’s no denying the similarities in their hard-rock-plus-pop sound.  Guitars are distorted and riffs abound, but there are no fret-shredding solos or passages designed to cause neck injury.  The vocals are pleasant, and they come with some heartwarmingly blunt lyrics.  Try listening to the hook of  “You’re so pretty” without wincing at how not-poetic-yet-sweet it is.  However, the bridge phrase “Goodbye, goodbye/Hello, hello” falls flat for me.  It’s representative of the girl’s magnetic pull – that every attempt to leave becomes cause for another greeting – but it just sounds like someone fought to have vocals in the bridge and they needed lyrics fast.  This is what happens when band members fight.

audiosurf superglue“Superglue” finds Heirfervescent experimenting with sounds other than their own guitars.  Synth scales creep in and out of the background, adding soft hints of atmosphere where a six-string may not suffice.  There’s also quite a bit more vocal layering going on.  Not only is the main vocal track run through some sort of lo-fi effect, but the latter half of the song runs almost entirely on repetition of vocal overlays.  You will hear the words “paper and superglue” more times in this four-minute song than you have in the last ten years (unless you’re a kindergarten teacher or something, though you probably shouldn’t be letting kindergarteners use superglue).  Why “paper and superglue”?  It’s not entirely clear, as the line preceding it has more to do with being caught in a sinking ship than it has to do with arts and crafts.  Again, we’re talking about a lady.  Her influence is inescapable.  I’m not quite sure that’s supposed to be a bad thing.

audiosurf whats this all about“What’s this all about?” Acoustic guitars.  The song’s not entirely composed of them or anything – there’s a smooth electric guitar solo later on – but the vibe is entirely less rock-y than the previous two songs.  Tighter vocal harmonies combine with the acoustic guitars to create a vaguely folk rock feel.  It ebbs away by the song’s final crescendo, but the intent’s still there.  As implied by the title, the song’s contemplative.  You might argue it’s a bit general with regard to what’s being contemplated (I for one couldn’t figure it out), but isn’t that the point of pop lyrics, anyway?  To be just specific enough that we can distinguish them from other songs, but just general enough that we can align the words with our own hearts?  Play this song and fill in the cracks between the words with yourself.

audiosurf lunar module“Lunar Module” sounds deliberately (big surprise here) spacey.  Vocals echo, weird synthetic flutes descend, arpeggiated chords ring out into the ether: they’re trying real hard to make it sound like space.  And this isn’t light speed space.  It’s regular old float-around-slowly space.  So while it doesn’t drag, “Lunar Module” certainly moseys.  It’s easily the most varied track this week, due in large part to the bigger differences between the verses and choruses.  Lyrically, the song exists in two parts.  In the first half, the singer basically asks a woman to go to the moon with him (get it, it’s a metaphor for boundless love).  Some of the lines are clunky, and “Show me a sign, and I promise I’ll show you mine” just sounds crude.  I wasn’t on board until I heard the second half, which when to occasionally awkward lengths to put everything in the negative.  What once was a question about lunar travel is now a forlorn reflection on why they never did go to the moon together.  Nice turnaround, Heirfervescent.

Author’s Note

All songs were played on the Pro difficulty using the Eraser character. 

Got thoughts on the rides?  Tips for improving your score?  Sound off below in the comments.