1: "Again" by Cuddle Magic

Ok. So, Cuddle Magic are my friends. No, I don't like that band name either, but who fucking cares? It's a band name. They're all stupid. This song, however, is beautiful.

First things first: the slight crunch in the guitar tone is delicious and addictive and I could listen to it forever. It's also almost entirely reverbless, which makes the upbeat picking pattern really pop against the hi hat once the drums come in and push the song forward. It never leaves that pattern. Lately I've been very into songs that do one thing incredibly well, pin one mood and splay it like a butterfly in a case. Songs can take a momentary feeling and stretch it into 3-4 minutes of bliss. And then you can listen to those 3-4 minutes over and over until you wear all the flavor out like a piece of gum and have to move on to the next one. That's how we all listen now, right? Luckily, 10,000 songs will have premiered on Stereogum by next Thursday. 

The lyric "neon lights and road signs" combined with that chord shift always tugs at my heart. Kristin and Ben are wonderfully precise singers. The way they weave harmonies together is pleasurable almost in the same way as watching professional athletes perform. They're just so fucking good at it. But it still comes off as casual. Not a hair out of place, but they woke up that way. 

CM also pays great attention to detail: on the 3rd "let em in" the "in" is dropped in a lovely and surprising suspension. Their horn and string arrangements are always impeccable, and this is no exception. The drum part stays neatly locked in a 2 bar pattern, no matter what swirls around it. This helps the song feel circular, which most of my favorite music does. It's hard to find the starts and ends of phrases, and that makes it so much easier to get lost in the song. The repeated "again" was the first element that startled me into paying real attention to this song, and it holds me still, punctuated by vibraphone peals that make the words feel like thoughts arriving wholly formed from nowhere. 

It's easy for me to get caught up talking about small elements of arrangement and lyric and phrasing because they're tangible, but of course they're only the parts, not the sum. "Again" to me breathes openness and possibility into the air. I feel hopeful just hearing it, like driving through the first tollbooth of the roadtrip.