Holy crap. It’s been a long time since a song stopped me in my tracks, made me listen really close, and made my heart beat faster with how great it is. Something to do with being married, being content, losing the angst and fear of never finding love. Something like that.
The last really great album I bought had to have been Beirut, a few months ago in the fall (I heard them first, ok?). And I bought the Belle and Sebastian album recently, The Life Pursuit, and it’s great too. But this song, “Muscle’n Flo” by Menomena is perhaps the best, most moving song I’ve heard since that autumn evening in the parking lot of the Nottingham apartments in Logan, Utah, when I first heard “Sunken Treasure” by Wilco. I was really emotionally raw that evening and Jeff Tweedy et al., moved me to tears. Something about being lonely and depressed and having had my heart recently broken by that bastard who broke it (and who shall remain nameless, and no, I don’t harbor any more resentment about it, can you tell?), for the last time. And perhaps the worst. Yes, it was the worst broken heart I’ve had. Certain to be outdone in the future sometime, by a prodigal child I’m sure to have. It’s in the stars, I know it is. Anyway, the only way my heart could break like that again would be if Stoker left me (he better not). Or died too soon (he better not).
So “Muscle’n Flo.” Yes, it made my heart race with the thrill of discovering it. With that “oh my hell this is great and it’s mine, all mine!” feeling. Have you felt that? It’s amazing. And completely unexpected. I downloaded one of their songs on iTunes just to try them out, and liking the first song, downloaded two more. I’m listening to “Muscle’n Flo” and “Rotten Hell” today and I can’t believe it, really. I think I’ll have to buy the whole album tomorrow at Grimey’s. All three songs rule and at this rate, I can’t fathom how the entire album wouldn’t also rule.
You have this cool, mainly vocal- and drum-driven song, with a smattering of piano, occasional guitar riffs, and a subtle bass line. Suddenly it quiets and there’s a tiny bit of B-3. And this is the part where my heart stopped: “Now here I stand, a broken man / If I could I would raise my hands, I come before you humbly / If I could, I’d be on my knees;” Enter the big, gospel B-3 chords: “Come lay down your head upon my chest / Feel my heart beat, feel my unrest / If Jesus could only wash my feet, then I’d get up strong and muscle on.”
I guess what’s cool is how it’s nearly a gospel song, but better. More rocking. Less in your face. Like, I wouldn’t have said, “oh, yeah, gospel” even with the B-3 because so many songs have B-3 in them these days. But then you get the gospel sound with that bridge or climactic moment, whatever you want to call it, and then the Jesus reference and it’s like, my word, can they manipulate me any more with such sweetness? Such inspired songwriting? Ok, by saying inspired songwriting, I sound like someone who’s into Christian rock or the like and I’m not. I just think their songwriting skills are really good and therefore inspired by a muse, any muse.
“Rotten Hell” is good too. But “Muscle’n Flo,” is so unexpectedly great. That name doesn’t sound great, does it? It sounds like it’ll be stupid or some kind of sick rap song. But those lines, “feel my heart beat, feel my unrest,” are SO good. You have to hear it because my description hardly does it justice. No go, go listen.