Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019

Orville Peck – Turn to Hate

Next up, a masked singer who presumably won’t turn out to be, I don’t know, Ninja


Alex Clifton: “Fringed masked queer cowboy with Elvis’s voice and an ’80s melodic sense with a dash of Twin Peaks” sounds like a shtick when phrased that way, I’ll admit. But to dismiss Orville Peck as some kind of novelty star really ignores how good he is. There’s something about the way he mixes everything together that’s hypnotic and keeps me coming back for more. That voice, for one — every time I hear it, I’m blown away that someone can just make that come out of their mouth, especially since it’s been a long time since I’ve heard a male voice this rich. I tried not to be impressed the first time I watched his videos as there was an element that felt too campy for words, like it would all be revealed to be a joke at the end. But to be fair, you can’t make this kind of music and not have some sort of campiness. Peck is the real deal; if anyone deserves more attention and has been overlooked by the general masses, it’s this guy.

Joshua Copperman: It’s an effective gimmick; the narrative is less “hardcore guy goes country” than “mysterious pale masked man inexplicably has a gorgeous baritone.” Pony’s missteps recreate Morrissey/Elvis/Roy Orbison too neatly, but the best moments use pastiche as a foundation to build a new voice. The pinnacle is “Turn to Hate,” which is closer to ’80s-new wave than ’50s rockabilly and benefits from that distinction. Its message jumps the song forward another thirty years; “Don’t let my sorrow turn to hate” is especially powerful in this age of radicalization. The line “you’re just another boy caught in the rye” is maybe my favorite lyric of the year; reassuring the wannabe Holden Caulfields of the world they’ll be “alriiiiiight.” The “yee-haw” is up there with “get ’em” and “*GASP*” in the very specific pantheon of infectious 2019 ad-libs. He can be as goofy as he wants (and get away with “You’ll all be stars, now just you wait”) because of the depth of feeling and urgency in this song. And anyway, why be Holden Caufield when you can be a chaotic cowboy that channels his loneliness into helping others instead of wallowing?

Iain Mew: Peck sings as if having a deep voice is an automatic granter of a resonance which never arrives. The low-stakes jangle works well enough until he completely takes over, but I get easily distracted by imagining what Michael Stipe could do with the same material. 

Katherine St Asaph: The sum total of my knowledge about Orville Peck: 1) he’s a deliberately anonymous ersatz-country artist, 2) always appears in a The Hitcher mask, 3) is signed to Sub Pop. Is the latter why I keep swearing this is about to turn into a Throwing Muses song?

Nortey Dowuona: A soft shading of guitars sets the stage for Orville Peck to pull in the warm, fuzzy bass, gale wind guitars and 3D printed drums around their prickly, hurtling croon.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Bar music you listen to while sipping an IPA and eating salted peanuts. Pleasant, well-executed, inessential. 

Alfred Soto: A flashback to the Poppy Bush Interzone of college radio when Nick Cave and Lower Manhattan-era Lloyd Cole garnered airplay on little more than the symbolic portent of their two-dimensional baritones. Cool guitar twang. Not queer enough in toto. 

Vikram Joseph: I guess I was expecting something self-consciously challenging, but for all the masked theatrics, “Turn To Hate” is a remarkably comfortable-sounding country-pop song with beautiful, crisp production. There’s more than a trace of Reckoning-era R.E.M. in the rich jangle of the guitars — especially the three-note lick leading into the chorus — and the hazy outro is eerily reminiscent of another hazy 2019 outro, but Orville Peck contrives to sound both classic and sharply idiosyncratic. Also, if there were a prize for the most deliciously understated “yeehaw” of the decade, this would walk it.

Kylo Nocom: Here comes the cowboy! And he sounds a lot like an unfunny version of the Magnetic Fields! Mac DeMarco’s appearance in the video is unsurprising; both artists have summoned audiences through extra-musical goofiness more so than their rather pedestrian tunes. The antics make for easier branding and a fine token country slot come year-end list season. They do not make for fine music. One wonders why all the BDSM imagery is here when Orville has such a gutless, clean-shaven aesthetic.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: It’s so easy to read Orville Peck’s act as just about the mask (just about the mask, as if that doesn’t mean the mask as metaphor / the mask as literal mask / the mask as affectation / the mask as prop-work / the mask as pageantry / the mask as marketing gimmick) that I at first did not want to even encounter his music. Wouldn’t the idea of a masked cowboy goth indie folk singer always outstrip the practice? Yet “Turn to Hate” works both as a part of the Peckian mythos and as a work of Springsteen-cribbing Americana. It’s a simple song, raving up the same changes until they become laden with meaning, but it’s effective, like the high-beams on an old Toyota cutting through a Southwestern night. It’s kitschy in a way that only furthers its immediacy, a masked song about the mask’s necessity that nevertheless opens its own beating heart up.

Oliver Maier: Many musicians have flirted with or fully adopted the cowboy mantle in the past couple of years, but Peck is one of the few for whom the campiness of the persona feels planned rather than arrived at. This permeates the music to an extent, though I’m not sure whether it’s intentional. For all their theatricality, Peck’s vocals lack presence and conviction on “Turn to Hate,” and I can’t decide whether it’s a cunning way of draining the gruffness out of the archetype or just a genuine weakness. Maybe I’d be more inclined towards the former if anything else about the song felt particularly sophisticated, but while there’s glimmers of Big Star’s motel melancholy, it’s still not much more than a placid alt-country head-nodder.

Reader average: [9.5] (2 votes)

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2 Responses to “Orville Peck – Turn to Hate”

  1. well, technically it isn’t a throwing muses song, but I keep expecting the next line after every line to be “I’m waving, at my beautiful friends, over there, on the edge, of the!”

  2. I’m happy this scored fairly well, his album was really underrated and this song was definitely a standout for me

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