Fans of Breathe Me will like this. I don't know who wrote Set the Fire to the Third Bar, but it sounds to me like more of a Martha song than a Snow Patrol song. The lyrics are very personal – almost every line contains “I”, “you”, “we” or some variation thereof.
Its backbone is the combined vocal of Gary Lightbody and Martha Wainwright, but calling Set The Fire a duet is somewhat misleading. Here they both sing one vocal part together, rather than the more usual call-and-response format adopted by most duets. Their voices blend together impeccably; somehow both voices seem to stand out at the same time.
Fairly conventionally, the verses smoulder – the instruments and vocals are all quite subdued, as befits the tone of the lyrics – and then at the chorus the instrumentation swells and the lid comes off. The song's structure (two verses, a chorus, another verse, then two choruses) gives an overall sense of escalation.
For a song with such a sweeping, epic feel to it, it does seem a tiny bit brief at 3:23. Having said that, it's definitely good that they haven't dragged it out to unnecessary length. There's no long, protracted coda and no excessive chorus repeat; they stop as soon as the song's finished.
And because of its succinctness, you will want to hear it again. If you download one track last week... oh, hang on.
La Ritournelle opens with just a piano, a drumkit and some subtle string backing. To these are soon added lots of sweeping strings, which if I was more knowledgeable I'd be able to identify as particular instruments; suffice it to say they all sound lovely.
The piano and strings take turns at providing the leading melody, through an incredibly natural chord progression until, before you know it, it nears the end of the fourth minute and the strings once more build to a climax. And then he starts singing.
The singing bit is backed by some funky electric bass, ever-so-slightly reminiscent of Lady (Hear Me Tonight). After only eight lines and forty-odd seconds, the strings once again take the lead, with the piano in tow. Over the next three minutes, the strings and then the piano quietly fade out, and the music comes to a gentle coda.
Amazingly, for a seven-and-a-half-minute piece of music – and especially such a simple piece of music, with no sudden twists and turns, and only eight lyrics – La Rit never seems stale. The music never seems to be standing still, nor going around in circles; it always sounds like it's going somewhere.
So this is a piece of music that repeats itself for seven and a half minutes, and yet doesn't repeat itself at all. Try figuring that one out.
If you download two tracks this week, make them Set The Fire and La Rit. Stay tuned.