Wednesday, March 05, 2008

12 by Semisonic

Here's the drill: 12 songs to summarize an artist's career, in chronological order (of course).

Week 10

Do you like thoughtful power pop? Look no further...

1. F.N.T. (from Great Divide, 1996)
The titular initials stand for fascinating new thing, though lead singer Dan Wilson is quick to point out, "you're perfect, even when you are not new" and kind of undoes his whole point!

2. If I Run (from Great Divide, 1996)
Features not one but two great guitar solos! The lyrics put forth a universal (I think) sentiment of wanting to flee to freedom. Favorite line: "Keep thinkin' of the day I die when I lose my heavy load / but I wouldn't want to leave you behind."

3. Delicious (from Great Divide, 1996)
A groove-based sexy track. The chorus features infectious "ooh-ohs" which are always performed by the audience in concerts.

4. Across The Great Divide (from Great Divide, 1996)
An slower song, and an early indicator of Dan Wilson's solo sound.

5. In Another Life (from Great Divide, 1996)
Bassist John Munson delivers a charming vocal on this meloncholy kiss-off to a girl who has strung our poor narrator along for too long. The coda is nearly Beach Boys-worthy.

6. Secret Smile (from Feeling Strangely Fine, 1998)
Great atmospherics on this insinuating love song. Useless fact gleaned from drummer Jacob Slichter's excellent book So You Want To Be A Rock & Roll Star: This was actually a bigger hit in Europe than Closing Time was!

7. Closing Time (from Feeling Strangely Fine, 1998)
It doesn't even bother me that this is all most people will ever know of Semisonic, because as far as one-hit-wonders go this one stands the test of time. That is, people will hear it in a bar and say "God, that was a great song," rather than, "Can you believe we liked this?"

8. Singing In My Sleep (from Feeling Strangely Fine, 1998)
A rockin' ode to a mix tape and the feelings it evokes. When a guy made a mix tape for someone this is the swooning reaction he hoped for: "I've been livin' in your cassette / it's the modern equivalent / singin' up to a Capulet / On a balcony in your mind."

9. Chemistry (from All About Chemistry, 2001)
The boys emerged on album number three with the fuzz erased. Chemistry jumps from the speakers, an extended metaphor comparing science experiments to failed relationships. The hopeful part, of course, is that you learn a little more data each time until you finally get it right.

10. Follow (from All About Chemistry, 2001)
Sounds like a lost '70s country-soft-rock hit and tugs at the heart strings: "Take me wherever you go / Help me forget tomorrow / Love me your best and I know / All of the rest will follow." Awwwww.

11. Act Naturally (from All About Chemistry, 2001)
This ballad is strangely reminiscent of Chris DeBurgh. Lyrically it's about a couple putting up a united front. It could have multiple meanings; are they on the verge of a break-up, or is it a greater problem, like sickness? Either way, it's riveting.

12. One True Love (from All About Chemistry, 2001)
A writing collaboration with Carole King manages to capture that old Tapestry feeling. As with any great song the bridge takes it to the next level, soaring on harmonies (provided by King herself) and a string section!


Kirk said...

I would include "Kneel Down" as the first song and I would definitely include "Down in Flames" as well--and lose "In Another Life" and "Follow".

I remember Kneel down from the U of M N in 1994. It still is an incredible song. Down in Flames was the #1 Fan Request when the recorded "One Night at First Ave"... They were surprised, but I wasnt.

Dave said...

What about "The Prize" or "Sculpture Garden" from the Pleasure EP?? :)