"Davy Crockett" - South Ambulance
Friendly, skewed, comfortably messy, unexpectedly melodic, and totally what I want to hear this week. Could be the way the introduction takes Radiohead's "No Surprises" and recasts it as a goofy, upbeat adventure, could be the homespun nature of the big-hearted beat and wall-of-sound vibe, or maybe it could even be the snug nostalgia of the title ("Davy Crockett" evokes a bygone childhood as well as any proper name I can think of), but this song surely makes me smile. I love music that makes me smile out of pure instinctive reaction, not because it's literally funny (truthfully, I have no idea what's going on lyrically).
There's something Beach Boysy in the dense, tuneful, vocally-oriented setting here, but this is no ironic/retro homage; "Davy Crockett," rather, sounds like something Brian Wilson might do right now if he happened to be 25 again and working in a Swedish band in the 21st century. Even at his Pet Sounds apex, there was something handmade and idiosyncratic about Wilson's lush creations; South Ambulance has likewise put this half-churning, half-soaring concoction together with seemingly as much duct tape as megabytes. Even as background harmonies contribute texture and floating synthesizer lines add an almost majestic sheen, the sometimes straining lead vocals keep us from gliding into woozy bliss. As if to drive home the point, the mix changes at around 2:28 to expose these voices, for 10 seconds or so, minus the reverb you almost didn't notice until it's stripped away; and they may sound harsh and slightly out of tune but they also feel abruptly present: you can suddenly sense mouths and lips and cheeks and microphones in a way that seems reassuring and handcrafted. Music peopled by people, not programmed and looped.
South Ambulance is a quintet from Stockholm that has been playing together since 2003. "Davy Crockett" is the lead track from the band's latest EP, entitled EP#4, released this week on Indiecater Records, a digital only label based in Dublin. Two more South Ambulance EPs (#5 and #6) are due out on Indiecater before year's end.