Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Taken By Trees – My Boys

Swedish Women’s Wednesday continues with the first proper-proper solo venture from her out of The Concretes…


Anthony Miccio: A superficially wry tribute to Animal Collective and Vampire Weekend that’s less than the sum of its parts, who were already less than the sum of their parts.

Hillary Brown: Gosh, it’s cuuute. I guess Animal Collective needs more girly vocals, and this song was already fairly charming, so now it’s even more so–sprinkles on the ice cream, so to speak.

Doug Robertson: Passing “My Girls” through a Broadcast-esque filter, albeit a Broadcast who are more inspired by the natural world than the concrete corners of architecture, this is a genuinely lovely piece of work. Of course, whether this song actually needs to exist is another question, but when it inspires a reaction that can best be summed up in an adoring sigh, it hardly seems like one that we should go to the trouble of asking.

Alfred Soto: The estimable Pitchfork review says this single “retitles” and “reimagines” Animal Collective’s “My Girls,” as if Taken By Trees were Bryan Ferry reimagining “In the Midnight Hour.” Although the pleasures of hearth and home are certainly more intelligible than AC’s, the singing is as blank as the adoble slants she wants so much (I’m not even sure about the “so much” part). It’s not the fault of these indie acts that they expend artistic energy rendering the contours of domesticity because they know they’ll be moving out of their partner’s Greenpoint apartment by the end of the year. How bizarre — nostalgia for pain not experienced.

Ramzy Alwakeel: Short but not to-the-point, Victoria Bergsman’s offensively OK adaptation of “My Girls” excises more or less everything that made the original joyous on quite such a multidisciplinary scale. Infuriatingly doctoring the harmonic progression of the chorus, and normatively flaunting the somewhat childish substitution of gender in the title, this is about the least imaginative thing that anyone has ever done ever. It’s a shame, because her voice is lovely, and the song is still magic, albeit with some unsightly dents in its wand.

Keane Tzong: If I choose to believe this was created to intentionally highlight the lack of melody and musical craftsmanship in the original, it becomes rather more bearable. That still doesn’t make it any good on its own, though.

Anthony Easton: I am awfully fond of pretty. This is pretty.

John Seroff: When did indie pop move into the Romper Room? On the Jukebox alone, we’ve recently had Owl City‘s Teletubby Tales, Matt and Kim‘s Tigger-ish sugar high and a Vampire Weekend all-join-hands multi-culti singalong. Enter Taken By Trees’ Victoria Bergsman, hands neatly folded, affectedly reciting the part of Wendy while Peter tootles the MIDI Pan pipes and the other Lost Boys gamely clap hands, bang on the vibes and pluck an untuned lyre. “My Boys” has enough gallumphing charm and honeycomb sugar to make this Mother Goose adventure worth the make-believe, but hipsters can consider themselves put on notice as of now: at the rate y’all are raiding the toybox, nursery rhymes are going to stop tickling and start cloying.

Chuck Eddy: The gurgles underneath aren’t unbearable; there’s even worldbeat kerplunking that could pass for Vampire Weekend! Go hire a real singer; maybe I’ll add a point or two. But not more, unless I figure out where the song is.

Ian Mathers: To the extent that Animal Collective’s “My Girls” is a great song, it’s mostly down to the joyous propulsion that band gives it, which lets me ignore the fact that he’s singing hippie doggerel bullshit like “I don’t need to seem like I care about material things / Like a social status” (WHICH ISN’T A MATERIAL THING, YOU TWIT). Taken by Trees not only slows things down and reduces the arrangement to something spindly and twee, but plays the whole thing in this off-kilter way that means it can’t build up anything approaching a decent head of steam. All we’re left with is, well, hippie bullshit. Minus a point for the unnecessary gender switch.

John M. Cunningham: In “Young Folks,” Victoria Bergsman’s affectless vocals made for an intriguing counterpoint to the song’s bright chords and fizzy rhythm, but here, against a playful but less urgent clatter, she never transcends the merely cute. Of course, this cover doesn’t measure up to its original, either, and it may be as simple as this: while “My Boys” finds its mood in nature, “My Girls” already comes from it.

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