"Days Black Purple Nights" - Peppertree
If the Montreal-based quartet Peppertree lacks to date the internet buzz of some of their French Canadian peers, it's not for lack of talent or great songs. "La Cage Appât," featured on Fingertips in 2006, was a number-one song on the Fingertips Top 10 that year; "Days Black Purple Nights" is another idiosyncratic winner--less overtly dramatic, perhaps, than its predecessor, but with a beautiful sense of development and atmosphere.
The song starts with some sly misdirection. After a short, dreamy guitar line, we're introduced to an insistent organ, alternating between one major and one minor chord, which hammers the song's pulse into our heads. After 15 seconds of that, a lower-register guitar melody, staccato and ascending, glides in and takes over. This will prove to be the musical core of the song. Fifteen seconds later, the organ, without fanfare, disappears, having done its job. When singer Patrick Poirier enters, one minute into the song, the character of the piece has been altered. In an aching tenor that calls Thom Yorke to mind, Poirier sings over a musical clearing of sorts, acoustic guitar and crisp percussion now pushing us along, with the authority lent to it by the non-presence of the pounding organ. And here we feel the full effect of the minor chord the organ had earlier introduced us to: listen at 1:14 or so and experience the sense of loss induced by the march into the minor key. And then: pay attention to how Poirier is joined by singer Marianne Charland, who enters the song subtly--first harmonizing at the end of the un-chorus-like chorus (1:38) and then, more prominently, singing along with the wordless melody that the guitar had played in the intro. After that, she's fully on board, singing prominent harmony lines and, sometimes, countermelodies. I think the 30 seconds in the middle of the song, from 2:00 to 2:30, with Charland most audible, nails everything together here.
"Days Black Purple Nights" is one of four songs on Peppertree's new EP, A Green Flash From the Sun. All four are available on the band's site as free and legal MP3s.