Rain is audible throughout "3:15 on the Last Day of School". It's not a brutal rainstorm by any means, but a soft, calming rain heard from the dry warmth of the indoors. If you think this smells like the kind of wussy gimmick that would normally be employed by hippies and authors of bad poetry, well, I'd normally agree with you. Today, though, it pains me to announce that Memphis has successfully integrated the rain track
into a song. It's a beautiful song, tucked neatly into a beautiful album of soft guitar tones, softer drum tracks, chimes and vocals so restrained, they make Belle and Sebastian sound like Motörhead. I defy you to find a sharp edge, a hard corner or a raised eyebrow anywhere on I Dreamed We Fell Apart
. Despite all my leanings towards aggressive, angular rock, this is one of the better records released this year.
"Into the Wild", with its whispered vocals and use of harmonium and other unusual instruments, definitely brings Belle and Sebastian to mind -- yet where Belle and Sebastian alienate their listeners with emotional detachment and indie superiority, Memphis's songs leave the posing and the cuteness at the door; they are accessible and honest. "Hey Mister, Are You Awake?" is a remarkable foray into the subconscious; the French woman's voice that is sampled and repeated throughout this dreamy tune is sensuous and inviting. The clean streamlined edges of the jazzy "Nada" are cool and slippery. A stark sax solo slips into the mix between verses for a moment so brief, you'd swear it was imagined. When it finally reappears for a proper solo in the song's coda, you'll be reaching for a cigarette and a martini -- anything to help you feel as cool as the music that's rolling out of your speakers.
At the moment when it seems that I Dreamed We Fell Apart couldn't possibly get any mellower, "Lullaby for a Girl Friend" breaks out a whistling solo. The smooth airy tones almost inspired me to me dust off my old college bong. I decided against it, though, because no amount of the happy leaf could make me feel anywhere near as chill as Memphis do.