Sing "Other People"
only angels have wings | by Andrew Iliadis
happily twisted pop recordSing â€œOther Peopleâ€â€”the latest offering from Young God/Angels of Light head Michael Giraâ€”is a lot warmer than its predecessor, the haunting goth-folk masterpiece Everything Is Good Here/Please Come Home. The dirt has been wiped almost completely for this release and all of the songs have been produced with an almost radio friendly texture. From the get-go, â€œLenaâ€™s Songâ€ is inviting and strikingly poppy. I was taken aback by its warm and sunny guitar (sunny in a Michael Gira way), but thatâ€™s not to say everything is just dandy; the song is still permeated by heavy feelings about the past. Since I donâ€™t know who Lena is itâ€™s hard to say just what type of feelings, but my money is on nostalgia; â€œLena has sung / but she will sing again / beneath a desert sun / in withered skin.â€ Speaking of â€œLenaâ€™s Song,â€ all of the songs on Sing â€œOther Peopleâ€ are about people (go figure). Some are or were involved personally in Giraâ€™s life while others are almost mythical figures enmeshed in the shady world of mass media. Guess who â€œMichaelâ€™s White Handsâ€ is about. On other songs itâ€™s hard to figure out where the person in question is (â€œTo Live through Someoneâ€ speaks of people in general). Nothing here approaches the same sunshine as â€œLenaâ€™s Songâ€ but all of the songs are decidedly less cryptic than most of Giraâ€™s back catalogue. â€œAll Souls Risingâ€ was one of my fav songs on Everything Is Good Here so you can see why someone like me may have been put off by this release initially (Iâ€™m not a Gira devotee). That song is replete with pounding piano, fun-house harmonica, thudding percussion, shouted chants and yelps and of course Giraâ€™s creepy seesawing vocals. Unsettling indeed, however, there is still some noir to be found here as Gira comes up with a few head turners like â€œwe are wondering if he still eats / we are wondering if we did him wrong,â€ â€œyour dogs smell like dead thingsâ€ and â€œmosquitoes nest his eyes.â€ But even lyrics like these stick out on the record as if they had been put in to satiate those not expecting such a drastic departure from previous efforts. The reason I say this is because I sense that there is some happily twisted pop record waiting to come out of Gira. Even a song like â€œSimon Is Stronger Than Usâ€ where he quips in a venomously raspy voice â€œand he finally got rid of that interesting bitch / who mocked him in public and treated him like shitâ€ is leaning closer to a normal pop song structure. A whole album of songs like this would be something totally interesting given the track record of its lead man. But I get what Sing â€œOther Peopleâ€ really isâ€”itâ€™s a tribute album (as Gira has called it himself). It is full of songs he has created for people, some of whom he is obviously fond of, and this explains the not-too-dark execution. But for the next non-tribute album, maybe some flirtation with twisted pop would bring about another recording as captivating as Everything Is Good Here/Please Come Home. As it stands, Sing â€œOther Peopleâ€ is a solid release; fans of Michael Gira will find much to love about searching for the meanings behind these songs and discovering just who they are about.