Love at first sight (or sound), is it real? Can something that deep be as swift and sudden as lightning striking? I’m no scientist so I don’t know for sure but it took roughly 20 seconds of My Favourite Distraction’s opening track, Before You, to defrost my heart and quicken my pulse. Just listen to those glistening guitar notes hanging briefly in the air, reverb taking us close to the ocean surf, and then the vocal, friendly, reassuring, but a little pensive, fretting over doubt and confusion, ‘You got me all kinds of inside out, I can’t remember who I was before…’
We’ve been dropped into the same emotional dislocation zone Abba brought to life so vividly in The Day Before You Came, just when you think you have basic existence almost worked out, someone comes along, says, ‘hello…’ and everything turns upside down, at the exact moment you thought you were finally done with all that crazy stuff…
L.A’s The Francine Odysseys (Gretchen DeVault and Ian Patrick) write songs dealing with small moments not grand gestures, but that doesn’t make their music any less important or compelling. In life there are, after all, far more of those micro-moments and anyway ultimately drama is measured by impact not scale.
You must know that feeling, emotions overwhelming us: it can be pretty scary standing on the edge and plunging into the unknown. But then as Paddy once sang, ‘life’s not complete, ‘till your heart’s missed a beat…’
Past Present begins in a more subdued manner, twinkling sweetly before guitars gently bite and a mood of bruised regret and sadness descends. Love the stereo panning effects and the plangent guitar solo. A song of crystalline melancholy with dynamics to spare, I already want to hear it again just thinking about it.
And guess what? The quality doesn’t slip, Second With You and White Noise could easily have been switched around, finding themselves in pole position track listing-wise.
Comparisons: must we do them? Yeah, because they’re mouth-wateringly good, Neko Case (especially the harmonies), some 80s alternative acts such as the forever young, early Let’s Active, an undeservedly obscure curveball, Downey Mildew, and then maybe a bit of The Beths adrenaline rush sprinkled over everything.
Harmony laden, crammed full of hooks, how could we ever fall out of love with luminous beauty like this?
Of course beauty only goes so far and it’s what’s beneath the frosting that counts so it’s good to confirm there’s real depth and feeling here. These songs are fully acquainted with those lost and lonely blue days most of us know all too well. As you lose yourself in them, you could find you’re feeling just a little less alone.
In the unlikely event you’ve never felt that way don’t worry, they’re pretty damn catchy too.