Well, it’s time for me to give another listen to a few tracks I’ve never heard before from my favorite band, Mineral. For a recap of what this series is all about, give a quick look at my explanation HERE. Long story short, I’ve never heard the 2nd (and only other) album by my favorite band, so I’m going through it, track by track, for the first time. And because I’m such a nice guy, you get to come along for the ride. In my first outing, the slow and pretty opener ‘LoveLetterTypewriter’ sounded as though it was building towards something big. So join me in finding out, especially if you’ve never heard EndSerenading before.
1st Listen: Wow, coming out of the drum-free melancholy that was ‘LoveLetterTypewriter,’ the opening riff in ‘Palisade’ hits hard – and at once it becomes obvious that the production on this album is outstanding. It is a thousand times better than the production on The Power of Failing, allowing every member of the band to sound that much better, and allowing every aspect of this song to ring through with clarity and power. The first verse of this track is classic Mineral, and it builds into an instrumental chorus of sorts before settling back into the verse. The song soon reaches a fever pitch and I am left wondering how I could have ever suspected the album to be slow and boring. This might be one of the best Mineral songs I’ve ever heard, simply because it’s everything I love about Mineral ratcheted up a few notches. Great stuff.
2-5th Listens: Again and again, I’ll say it – one of the charms of The Power of Failing was the scaled back production, but man, do the moments hit so much harder with the improved recording quality of EndSerenading. I also love that the song has no choruses, yet never feels incomplete because of the super-intense instrumental parts. Of course, it helps that the guitarists have added some new tricks to their repertoires by slowing down the heavier parts and not picking everything out. It really lends the song’s instrumentals an awesome moodiness that still sounds distinctly “Mineral.” Also, I think vocalist Chris Simpson sounds more like Enigk than ever before on this one.
6th- Forever: Hands down, this is one of the best songs the band has done. Easily top two or three (keeping in mind that I haven’t heard the remainder of this album…).
1st Listen: Again, at first blush, this is more Power of Failing. Build ups and build ups, as Simpson sings thinly veiled Christian lyrics that flow along with a kind of natural obtuseness, rather than shoehorning them into a particular melodic flow ( if that makes sense). The background vocals add another level of depth previously untapped by the band – things are really looking quite good for this album. The guitarists are doing a great job of creating an expectant atmosphere, and it soon pays off. I love you Mineral, my eyes are gazing fixedly at my shoes. The circular vocals at the end are truly amazing.
2nd-5th Listens: Honestly, my feelings have stayed the same and I don’t have a lot to add to my initial thoughts. It’s a great song that sounds right at place in the Mineral canon.
6th- Forever: Still going strong – trying not to explode with excitement for what the rest of the album will hold. I need to keep reminding myself that things could still go horribly astray.
Lyrics For Both Songs: I’ll put these together and just say that it’s incredibly deceiving just how short the lyrics to ‘Palisade’ actually are. I was expecting to see a couple of paragraphs but it’s only a couple of lines. As I previously said, Simpson does little to mask his faith in his lyrics (you could make a case that ‘Palisade’ is about something else, but it’s pretty straight shooting in ‘Gj’s'). Interestingly, in these two songs, he seems spiritually happy and content, rather than worthless and lowly, as he was on The Power of Failing. It’s still there a bit, but (without getting too theological here) Simpson sounds more like he’s accepted the grace he sang about not deserving in the previous album. It makes me think back to something funny I heard once – although this might be totally untrue, so keep that in mind. A friend of mine went to see Mineral back in the mid 90′s and tried to talk to Chris Simpson a bit more about the faith side of his lyrics, and apparently Chris really did not want to talk about that at all. Not rudely, but just said that he’d rather not discuss it. I always thought it was interesting that he was so forthright in lyrics and yet it wasn’t something he would openly discuss. Anyway, the lyrics are printed below.
Well that about does it. I have to say, I was really worried about listening to EndSerenading with all of the build up that has been involved. Truly though, it has really delivered on every level so far. I guess I have to chalk up that one experience listening so long ago to being 18 and rather foolish. Well, I’ll see you back here in the late winter with the analysis of tracks 4 &5. Thank you for reading and please follow along.
There I was: fourteen, spinning
With my arms out like a scarecrow,
Walking down Monroe to the park,
Dancing up Madison
With my eyes closed. Your feet
Sounding like a symphony of strings,
You picked me up and whispered “Forever,”
Like a secret in my ears.
Now. . .
You woke me up in the morning
To say, “He is risen.”
And I replied with a smile,
“He is risen indeed.”
And somehow you always leave the room
Alive with truth and beauty,
And carry yourself like you know
That it’s all just a matter of time.
I said, “What if I’m too far down this time.
Too proud to hope, too weak to climb.”
But you just pierce through me with eyes
And I know I’m done
And I can.
And carry yourself like you’re sure of it,
Like the stitches dissolved
And the wounds all heal in time.
Your words are giants next to mine
And your thoughts are giants.
I only hope that someday
I might resemble you in
Even the smallest way.
I only hope that
You can be proud of me.