THE SOFTLIGHTES "The Microwave Song" (from SAY NO! TO BEING COOL, SAY YES TO BEING HAPPY, 2007 Modular)
I’m just a light boy looking for a lighter day
And it’s a cold, wet Wednesday.
We had days in the sun but they added up to none
It’s just the fate of the Atomic Age.
Yeah, I don’t get it either, to be honest, and that third line comes dangerously close to Terry Jacks territory for me. But that’s how San Diego’s Softlightes chose to start their poppiest pop ode to the microwave, called, oddly enough, “The Microwave Song.” Anyone looking for further enlightenment in the remaining lyrics will run up against lines like “There were lights in my head but they lost their place” and “I’m looking at you from your tennis shoe,” proving that there were still musicians dropping acid as late as 2007. But talking about this song in simple words is kinda like taking Route 76 into Philly – you may think you’re getting somewhere, but you’re not. So rather than dwell on the words, just click on the song, and listen to those beautiful REM/Robyn Hitchcock jangly chords, and that shimmering, chiming indie pop sound. And a chorus that will stick with you for the rest of your life, even though you’ll feel as dumb as a Hilton sister singing “I am just a microwave!” in the middle of a crowded shopping mall or rehab clinic. Here, the Softlightes have borrowed elements from the 60’s, 70’s and the 80’s to create a perfect little pop masterpiece. The trippy vibrato effect that dominates the first half is pure 60’s psychedelic grooviness, while the nifty little moog string section that pops in around 1:40 sounds like a sample from In the Court of the Crimson King or any one of the many interchangeable early 70’s Moody Blues albums. Then, to round out our quick tour of the decades, the lead vocals are strongly reminiscent of Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips or Tim DeLaughter from Tripping Daisy and (of late) the Polyphonic Spree. Put it all together and it’s one of the catchiest pop songs I’ve heard in a long time. The Softlightes used to be known as the Incredible Moses Leroy, whose songs were usually just as brilliant (and will undoubtedly show up in future posts). But alas, their name was apparently too confusing for some people, who thought Moses was a guy and not a band. Apparently the same bunch of fans who showed up during the 70’s asking to see Mr. Tull and Mr. Skynyrd. I’m not saying “Softlightes” is an improvement, but “The Microwave Song” is the closest either band has come to pure pop nirvana, and I haven’t got a fucking clue what they’re talking about. But next time I go to rehab, it’s what I’ll be singing.
THE SQUID POP METER SEZ: 9.5 Tentacles out of Ten