“It's in the Eyes of the Beholder” (the 2007-09-28 Friday Fetch-it)

Over the course of the last fifteen years, the Cardigans have covered genres ranging from bubblegum pop (“Carnival”, “Lovefool”) via subdued, smouldering indie (“My Favourite Game”, “Erase/Rewind”) to country (“For What It's Worth”). Most of the 2005 album Super Extra Gravity falls into the latter category; but a couple of tracks stand out.

The gloriously-named “I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need To Be Nicer”—the album's lead single—is a medium-paced all-out rock tune, a near-perfect example of what I keep referring to as “driving rock”; as such, it shares little in common with anything else on the album-proper.

But then there're the bonus tracks—songs that half-count as part of the album and half-don't, depending on who you ask or which country your copy comes from. Elusive little buggers.

Super Extra Gravity actually includes a track entitled “Bonus Tracks” (if you buy it in the UK, at least)—a twenty-second ditty consisting substantially of footsteps approaching what turns out to be a harpsichord (or, y'know, something that sounds like what I think a harpsichord sounds like), upon which a short tune is played, culminating in a chorus of voices emphatically intoning the title. I'm not recommending this—I haven't gone that outlandish yet—but the next bit:

“Give Me Your Eyes” begins unassumingly with a rising wind noise (which briefly implies a continuation of the weirdness of “Bonus Tracks”) followed by a cautious acoustic guitar verse that ends on a ponderous rising note (I think it's called a seventh). And then all hell breaks loose: a brash, cyclical electric-guitar rhythm dominates what's nominally a restatement of the introductory guitar verse, and leads into sixteen loud, relentless drumbeats.

So this is unbridled rock—by now there's no doubt about it. Throughout the first verse the bassline builds up an amount of tension, slowly alternating between two nearby notes; into the chorus there's a cathartic screech of feedback, diffusing the tension and allowing the chorus itself to proceed unencumbered.

The end of the chorus is punctuated by another set of sixteen drumbeats, before continuing full-speed into the second verse; the song's filled out by now and there's less of the first verse's tension. The calmly aggressive tone of Nina Persson's voice, along with the instrumentation's insistence, lends a dash of the sinister at the end of that verse—when she sings “it's in the eyes of the beholder, now give 'em to me” it occurs to you that she might actually mean “give me your eyes” literally—!

Halfway through the second chorus, the song neatly veers off towards a fairly straightforward middle eight, followed by another set of drumbeats leading into the breakdown. This bit's pretty standard too—a quietly-accompanied verse that introduces a speedy synopsis of the entire song. It borrows the chorus's lyrics for its second half and leads to a half-length reprise of the chorus. The chorus ascends into a solo, culminating in that brash guitar cycle (Nina sings along too); and those damn drumbeats bash the song out of existence.

On paper, it's actually quite a conventional song, and it's hard to compellingly describe a song that distinguishes itself in its execution, rather than by a spark of compositional cleverness—this is why recordings by bands have superseded sheet music. If you download one song this week, make it Give Me Your Eyes.

(I'm guessing this was written and recorded too late to make the album-proper, and that's why it's a bonus track; if that's the case and this is an indication of the style of the next album, said album will rock.)

(How do you follow that? Let's say “Chemistry” by Semisonic (since I already mentioned “Memorize The City” a while ago)).