[video] Psychologist – Comes in Waves


I just happened across this one in my late-night searches and I can’t really say much about the artist, video, releases, etc. He released an EP called Waves of OK a week or so ago and I assume that “Comes in Waves” is the first single.

Curiously, the site I found it from was a little derisive of the song, essentially saying it was just another “Man With a Piano and Problems” song. I can’t lie, it’s that kind of song. Maybe I’m a sucker for that kind of song though, because I absolutely love the song. I think it’s simply beautiful. The video takes the song’s metaphor, that of a seahorse, somewhat literally as it makes for a compelling view. It’s wonderfully shot. Be sure to watch it.

As a side note, the original reviewer (read what I’m talking about at Drowninsound.com) closes her assessment with “Songs like [this] sound like wailing for the amusement of the creator, rather than polishing the wail into something rather more universal and communicative.”  I can’t say anything else of her criticism, as I haven’t heard the EP or anything else from Psychologist, but this line stuck out to me. Is she complaining about a song being too personal? Is that a legitimate criticism to make of any song? Of any art?

Psychologist’s stuff might derivative of other wailing, minimalist artists–she drops James Blake, which is  apt–and that might be a legitimate criticism to make. After all, art that simply repeats other art without improving upon it doesn’t warrant much attention. That said, I like “Comes in Waves” more than most of Blake’s work. The metaphor might be a little strange, but I don’t think I couldn’t say it’s not interesting. A single father is a rare-enough thing portrayed in media, alone enough to drive a certain level of interest and it’s a novel enough idea to avoid being derivative. Even if it’s a metaphor.

So then there’s the whole “too personal” thing. I think it’s fair to say that most music created is done so for personal reasons. Certainly when you get to the lower levels of moneymaking, this only becomes more common. I can’t make any definite comment as to the authorial intention of Psychologist, but I think it’s safe to say that the song is probably borne of something personal. I can’t say I’ve ever heard that made into a complaint, though. Could you imagine someone saying that about Coldplay? “What the hell is Chris Martin referring to!? I don’t understand!” It’s seems a silly argument to leverage. After all, no one can say why exactly an artist creates art. It could be catharsis in a crisis for the self, an attempt to reach others, or just something he kind of liked.

I’m probably way over-thinking a little blurb a writer had to write up before a deadline, but that bit particularly interested me (and admittedly rubbed me the wrong way). It’s just one writer’s opinion and I’m sure she just wasn’t feeling it. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the track and if you actually read all this, I’m sure you have some thoughts on the subject.

Is authorial intention even worth mentioning in music? In art? Or is it all audience reaction? Is there some middle ground that I’m ignoring?

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