The time signature of 7/4 has reputation amongst musos for being the preserve of either prog addled drumheads or jazz elitists, both more interested in showing off their technical prowess than communicating with the listener. Yet when applied tastefully, it enables unexpectedly rhythmic meters to arise in the vocals, which can sound closer to natural human speech – the classic example being the verse of ‘All You Need is Love.’ Yorkshire-based newcomers Talkboy employ the same concept of shifting between time signatures in their curiously mature debut single ‘Mother,’ a delightfully floral blast of jangle-pop in the sonic mould of groups like Alvvays and Hater, bringing structural sophistication to a genre that has traditionally relied on simple structures and clear melodies.
‘Mother’ is short and sweet, clocking in at 2:38. Talkboy are smart enough to know that their heavily reverberated sound risks fatiguing the listener if the songs aren’t focussed and to the point – they therefore wisely opt for an immediate bombardment of concentrated joy. This allows a song that somewhat lacks dynamic contrast to shine on the basis of its excellent melodies and harmonies, leaving you wanting more rather than wishing it was over. The peak moment hits with the introduction of a higher vocal harmony in the second chorus, a beautiful melodic moment that has the whole band delivering rhythmic emphasis rather than generating wash underneath (as is often overly done in jangle-pop).
Lyrically, we’re addressing themes of parental expectation and disappointment that I suspect are common to millennials involved in artistic pursuits. The density of the musical texture isn’t matched by the lyrics – we probably have a grand total of eight different lines in the whole song, many of which repeat in terms of structure, however this again strikes me as a wise choice; overly complex lyrics would most likely end up lost in the swirling mists of reverb and lose their meaning, while the short, to the point, and relatable poetry here stays true to the jangle-pop tradition of simplicity, letting melodies and textures shine through.
Overall this is an excellent starting point for Talkboy, staking their claim to structurally new territory in the crowded arena of jangle-pop whilst managing to stay true to the genre’s conventions. I can only see things getting bigger and better for them in the future.
Photo Credit: Jeff Barnett