Enjoying the music and lyrics of Quasi, the ex-husband and wife duo of Sam Coomes, organ (formerly of Heatmiser, Elliot Smith’s original post-grunge band), and Janet Weiss, drums (Sleater-Kinney), reminds me of something someone told me once about the emotional power of Hollywood film. Show someone the final scene of Casablanca with writing on the bottom stating that, “All this took place in a studio in Burbank, Calif.; the people in the background are midgets; the planes are cardboard cut-outs and Bogart is wearing 3-inch lifts in his shoes” and the viewer, raised on Hollywood since day one, will simply jump right over it and back into the story — “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Ditto goes for pop music. The pull of Quasi’s Beatlesque-indie-pop-Prozac is so strong, so familiar, with Weiss’ Ringoisms fitting perfectly with Coomes’ anti-Ritalin organ attack, that it’s easy to overlook that Coomes and Weiss’ harmonies are calmly singing that everyone is a sellout, everything sucks and that, “You can cover up your chains and call yourself free / It doesn’t really matter to me.”
After 14 more tracks about selling souls to the devil, coming in last, living in abject loneliness and realizing that there is always something worse than blandness — namely death — you’d think I’d be ready for a few hours of time alone.
I’m back listening to this same godforsaken album and you will be too — as long as you believe strongly enough in pop music where you can unquestioningly sing along to such lines as, “Don’t believe a word I sing / because it’s only a song and it don’t mean a thing.”
Brilliant. Play it again, Sam.