Cold Cold Water
Mirah’s first album, You Think It’s Like This But Really It’s Like This, was the toast of Indietown back in 2000, and her heartbreaking, heartbroken, silver voice is all over all The Microphones’ albums. So here she is with a tiny little EP, apparently just to whet our appetites for another full-lengther later this year.
Cold Cold Water consists of the title song in two different versions, two new acoustic songs, and then a whole bunch of outtakes. Big deal, right? Wrong. The “album version” of “Cold Cold Water” is perhaps the greatest song of the young year. It starts with the unassuming cutesy fake-Western lines “I saddled up my pony right / And rode into the ghostly night,” but then bursts into full-on Morricone territory, courtesy of The Microphones’ Phil Elvrum, all swelling strings and tympani, and Mirah’s stinging voice proclaiming, “And it was wide wide open / Wide wide open!” This is all before the song is 20 seconds old, but it goes on for another five minutes to describe a rollicking allegory about finding love and losing love and how love is like cold cold water in the desert — and dammit, she’s right. (It’s also got some serious gender-issue overtones, but that issue is never stated out loud, so maybe I’m just guessing.) The sound is perfect, the lyrics are introspective and wonderful (“Oh the West can be a desperate place / You search all day for just a taste“), and everything is kick-ass all around. Strangely, it’s more effective than the acoustic version that pops up later.
The two other songs have a hard time living up to “Cold Cold Water,” but they’re quietly effective in their own ways. “Apples in the Trees” manages to be propulsive, sad, defiant, and empowering in less than two minutes, and “Make It Hot” is just flat-out sex on disc: “Make it hot / Take me over and over and over.” Whew.
The whole thing ends with some Jackie Chan-style snippets from Elvrum’s orchestration of “Cold Cold Water.” They’re cool but unnecessary, and they don’t really work out of context. Yeah, we all know you’re a whiz in the studio, Phil, but this really should be Mirah’s show. She’s a songwriting talent for real and her voice is persuasive and adorable. Can’t wait for that album.
K Records: http://www.kpunk.com