Merchandise - Enemy (4AD)

The second tune from this Florida band's 4AD debut album is an absolute killer and has been rattling memorably around my head for the last few months.

Firstly, there's an unforgettable guitar riff locked down with a four to the floor drumbeat. Not a distorted riff, it's clean, a descending pattern and it kind of unwinds itself, insidiously, vaguely threateningly, like a snake raising itself off the floor.

Then there's the vocal of Carson Cox. What a wonderful instrument that is. You imagine him pulling off a white soul or a lounge act quite easily. Plus he has a side of the mouth delivery that's intriguing. So chorus lyrics as innocuous as "all your thoughtless words" take on an extra weight or gravity.

That chorus also has a great arrangement touch, a layered octave vocal which lifts the whole proceedings another notch.

There's an atmosphere of coiled tension about the whole thing, even with the major key and smooth singing, which in itself is a great achievement. Apparently there's hardcore punk in the band's backstory so it seems maybe their aims haven't changed, just their methods.

They sound like they could be a genuinely great band, a band that could inhabit some strand of the mainstream while smuggling in higher concepts and darker intent.

For now, this is thrilling stuff, one of the songs of the year.

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