Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Song Title: "Venus Flytrap and Lightning Bug"
Artist: Custard
Search Term: "Wisenheimer" [This song is from the album Wisenheimer]

Well, once again I am talking out of both sides of my mouth. Yesterday I whimpered that "She's Got Good Dry Goods" was too close to "Rock Around the Clock" to withstand the scornful eye of posterity, even though the former was written long before the latter. Today I have a speedy fuzzbox wisecrack from the 1990s that outright steals its vocal line from the old jazz-pop hit "Yeh Yeh" (popularized by Georgie Fame, I gather), and I am about to gush over it. I'll spare you several paragraphs' worth of hair-splitting rationalizations and defensiveness, and simply say I am happy to own my hypocrisy on this because "Venus Flytrap and Lightning Bug" is the best song I have yet discovered through this blog.

This song isn't a rip-off, though; it's merely a very smart recontextualization. Where "Yeh Yeh" was a fizzy romp--buzzing with the exhilaration of dropping a half-serious come-on and being shocked to find that it actually works--"Venus Flytrap and Lightning Bug" applies that same giddy melody to a doomed couple arguing so raucously that the cops have to break it up. It's the smirkiest of pop allusions, but Custard avoids being irritating about it because the rest of the song is so solid in its own right. The purloined verse is used as a springboard to an electrifying power-pop chorus, with frontman David McCormack howling, "It's violins for our relationship!" as his bandmates harmonize syrupily behind him. The production, courtesy of Eric Drew Feldman (former member of Captain Beefheart's Magic Band and sideman for Frank Black and PJ Harvey), is neither too aggressive nor too glossy, and these guys are playful enough to figure out a way to make a guitar sound like a theramin during the instrumental bridge, which I appreciate. It's two minutes of everything I like about music.

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