Saturday, April 28, 2007

Song of the Week: "You Broke My Heart"

Download: Lavender Diamond - "You Broke My Heart"

Lavender Diamond's Becky Stark has a quivery, dramatic voice that is a little Bjork-like but more inviting, and in "You Broke My Heart" she puts it through a grand workout. The song starts softly as Stark repeats the line "you broke my heart" eight times, varying it as she goes. At first it's a baleful statement then she sings it like a hurt animal. As any great singer she makes the words signify more than what they mean, and it is what makes the song so transcendent.

Like last week's song of the week, LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends," "You Broke My Heart" is a song that shows that repetition can be an effective technique if done so smartly and with skill. "You Broke My Heart" has a 1960s Wall of Sound vibe that builds and builds to an operatic crescendo. Stark begins in a low register and climaxes to a stirring conclusion. When she gets to the line "I hear the cavalry of light" I just about want to get on my feet and start clapping. I have yet to see Lavender Diamond live but if Stark can sing this song with as much passion as it already has in the recorded version, I can only imagine the chills it would send down my spine.

I'm not sure that the song is directly about heartbreak and love as the title would suggest. The rest of the lyrics seem to reside on a vast, elevated plain that is removed from personal experience. As the structure of the song itself suggests, the lyrics seek a glorious epiphany that is almost within its grasp. The song, I think, is willfully broad and ambiguous to better achieve universal resonance. It's certainly a song meant to be felt rather than analyzed.

Lavender Diamond's debut album, Imagine Our Love, comes out May 8 on Matador Records. The band may be accused of being too kitschy, and the album should reveal if they are more than just a band with a gimmicky sound. The Cavalry of Light EP suggests that they are, indeed, the real thing. Even if they are a gimmick, though, they will at least have given the world "You Broke My Heart."

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