I had a friend in high school who only listened to music that was technically difficult to play, mostly jazz or The Mars Volta. He preferred time signatures that were hard to drum along too, long improvisations and wildly complex key signatures. He’d sometimes characterize his favorite musical genres by adding “math-” to his friends’ favorite genres: math-rock, math-punk, math-grunge.
Why the love for musical complexity? He was a talented guitar player and was drawn to music that he couldn’t play himself. Whenever we listened to the radio he’d always shake his head. “This stuff is so simple and easy,” he’d say. And for him, it was. He’d pull out his guitar later that day and figure out the chord progression in under a minute. Seriously, this guy could pull an acoustic cover song out of thin air and play it perfectly. If I ever have a campfire, he’s the first person I’ll call.
But I always thought his approach to music didn’t make sense. I can certainly understand my buddy’s point of view. But does “musical complexity” really matter all that much?
Here’s the thing: I don’t always want complexity. I’ll confess this at the risk of sounding ignorant or, even worse, musically immature. There’s something to be said for music that’s hard to play, but sometimes I just want to hear a catchy, simple, easy-to-play pop song. I want something that gets stuck in my head. “Simple” doesn’t mean “shitty.” Pop songs aren’t hard to make. They’ve all got the same basic structure. But so what? I can tap my foot along to the rythm and hum with the melody. There’s beauty in the simplicity.
The worst part about living in New York City is not having a car. Actually, it’s the best part–I don’t pay for car insurance or worry about keeping the tank full of gas. But sometimes I miss driving. There’s nothing better than cruising around aimlessly listening to music with the windows open. Extra points if you’re with friends. Triple points if your plan for the day somehow involves the beach, a frisbee and grilling.
Atypicals sent me their latest work the other day and it quickly became my feel-good album of the Summer. Err, make that my feel-good EP of the Spring. Whatever. It makes me wish I had a car again. These are pop songs with an electro edge; they’re going to get stuck in your head. Because they’re simple and catchy, and that’s a good thing.