Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Best Songs of the Decade: #47-- "The End's Not Near" by The New Year

Who'd have thought that a song about the end of the world would end up on a list like this? And yet, here it is. Touch & Go residents The New Year released "The End's Not Near" as the (nearly) title track of their 2004 sophomore released "The End Is Near," and what a way to start off an album. The simple acoustic guitar picking and piano playing by brothers Matt and Bubba Kadane (formerly of slowcore pioneers Bedhead) offers a haunting beginning before the vocals bubble slowly to the surface; and what vocals they are. Matt Kadane sounds even more despondent than usual as he offers up lines like, "The end's not near/It's here/Allelujah, spread the cheer" without a hint that me might be kidding, not even a little bit. About halfway through the track he is joined by a heavily reverbed guitar that provides the song with all the desolation and despair one can imagine. (more business after the jump)

By the time the song finishes you don't even really realize it might not have been about the end of the world at all. Maybe its about lost friends and heroes. It doesn't really matter, though. The overwhelming feeling conveyed by the song is the despair of an ending, and it is a wonderfully majestic, powerful and subtle despair. It is a very rare occasion when one looks forward to an end, and even more rare still when one can recognize the end is approaching. This resigned fatalism is all over this track, and its a beautifully poignant sentiment. Band of Horses, a pretty okay band in their own right (and the reason the imeem track reads as Band of Horses), covered this track for one of The O.C.'s soundtracks, but that fatalism is what they missed. They missed the song's sigh at the futility of fighting. I can think of few other songs that were able to impart this kind of fatalistic futility in a more compelling or beautifully understated way.

The Ends Not Near - Band of Horses

No comments: