You know those songs that you first hear on a good set of headphones, probably while laying in a dark room and relaxing, and you instantaneously feel a connection to? You know, the ones where you're able to take in every subtle nuance of the song, and you appreciate how the singer's voice wavers and strains to hit certain notes and the drums hit with just the right amount of bass. But then you try to enlighten someone else and you make the classic mistake of playing it for them in a rattling car doing 75 on the freeway. Somehow something is lost in the translation between the two settings. Well I'm calling those songs, the ones that need to be really listened to and savored, headphones songs.
I'm writing all of this to explain my love of the "The Rip" off of Portishead's 3 (their first studio album in 11 years). The album is a departure from their trip-hoppy roots and experiments with some really interesting sounds. The Rip starts off as an unexpectedly mellow, stripped-down acoustic guitar-driven song. While evoking imagery of wild horses is kind of trite, I think the chorus is lyrically effective:
Wild, white horses
They will take me away
And the tenderness I feel
Will send the dark underneath
Will I follow?
The real magic begins at about the 2 minute mark. I love the transition from slow to fast and from soft to loud. The difference in volume levels is more noticeable on headphones and makes the transition pack that much more of a punch. Do me a favor and listen to it when you have a chance to give it the attention it deserves.
As an added bonus to this post, take a listen to their first single off of 3. I love the juxtaposition between her voice and the very masculine, very industrial sounding beat. Aptly titled "Machine Gun."