Song of the day: “Spring Snow”
Hello Lemonwire readers! Hope everyone’s Monday was warm. Today we look at another perfect song for those last spring days that we have left.
Yesterday we watched “The Rain Song” by Zeppelin, which used the seasons as a metaphor to draw the arc of a relationship. The day before yesterday, I might have listened to “The Rain Song” a handful of times. But re-examining him in a new light helped me remember how good he still is.
Our song today is “Spring Snow”, by Vampire Weekend. He also uses the seasons to comment on a relationship, but in a slightly different way. The most significant difference we’ll see between her and “The Rain Song” is not Vampire Weekend’s use of different musical techniques like automatic tuning, but rather a stark contrast in tone.
But first, let’s see what Vampire Weekend has been up to lately.
“Spring Snow” is the penultimate track from Vampire Weekend’s new album, “Father of the Bride”. The recent release (released May 3) is Vampire Weekend’s fourth studio album and their first project in the past six years, following “Modern Vampires of the City” in 2013. It’s also the band’s first album since multi-instrumentalist and producer Rostam Batmanglij has left the group. While the album itself is incredibly diverse, it maintains a pattern of contrasting dark lyrics over a bright, springtime vibe.
While he debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, he has since been overtaken by Logic’s recent release, “Confessions of A Dangerous Mind.”
“Spring Snow” is a bit of a weird track, to be honest, but not for Vampire Weekend. He balances minimalism through the verses with explosive energy in the self-tuned, wordless chorus. Even though they have different melodies, I kept thinking about “Lost In The World” by Kanye and Bon Iver. Still not the biggest fan of auto-tuning.
Besides the unnecessary (in my opinion) use of preset, the unique beat of “Spring Snow” gives the song most of its energy. The piano melody is bright and clear, which contrasts nicely with the subtle synths in the background. But there is also a trace of darkness in the music, almost gloomy.
As the title suggests, the lyrics to “Spring Snow” center on an unforeseen cold front. As any Midwestern resident will tell you, this is not uncommon. In fact, in Indiana it’s almost guaranteed to snow at least once between March and May. When you grow up with this pattern, you learn not to expect too much when you see the first ray of sunshine after February.
The lyrics of “Spring Snow” integrate this dynamic, but upset expectations by reversing it. Let’s start with the first verse to see how they do this.
“The snow fell last night
Your flight could not leave
Come back to bed
Let’s take this reprieve “
In this opening stanza, we are given the context and we are told directly what the song is about. Two lovers on the verge of separation are offered one more day together by a stroke of luck, resulting in unsafe travel conditions. Instead of being a symbol of death, this late winter time is seen as a gift. Further proof of this interpretation is clearly visible in the second stanza.
“It was like the end
The end has been delayed
You are there in my arms
So what should I say? “
These lines just flesh out what we already know and just provide a little more evidence that we are on the right track. More importantly, we learn in this stanza that this is not a temporary journey, but a permanent end.
Another revealing stanza comes later in the song, but highlights the ongoing subversion.
“The snow slows them down
So just for a day
But here is the sun
These old toxic rays ”
The third line here is reminiscent of The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun”, while the last one hits you with the punchline. It’s not a song about how spring is the season of love and how lonely winters are, but the exact opposite.
While the music is quite catchy, the last words of “Spring Snow” reveal it as a facade. A man trying to force himself to be happy after losing love.
“Trains are starting to run
The bells begin to ring
The seasons that we had
Does not mean anything”
And if you think of music like that, then I guess using auto-tuning actually makes a lot of sense. A voice that isn’t able to sound jubilant asks for the help of editing software, and still doesn’t sound so happy. And at the end of the song, we learn the reason.
That concludes our discussion today. We will be back tomorrow.