Wednesday, December 28, 2011

40 Songs, 40 Days (2011 Edition), Day Thirty Four: Punk Rock Princess by Something Corporate

Amongst the reasons to break up a band. 'I have leukemia'
is pretty high up there...
I usually don't have much respect for emocore bands....but there's something about Something Corporate that has always attracted me. To the best of my knowledge, it's the only band that I turned the Penguin onto, and it's one whose finiteness is part of its charm.

I first discovered the band when I was sorting through a collection of holiday themed songs I had downloaded. In amongst the dross that I have long since forgotten was 'Forget December,' the band's paen to acknowledging that Christmas cheer doesn't heal familial dysfunction...and I loved the dark, moody composition, as well as the expressive vocals of Andrew McMahon. Unlike the other emocore bands I have heard, whose vocalists seem to be affecting their angst, McMahon seems thoroughly sincere. It helps, of course, that some of SC's songs take joy in a life that all their peers seem incapable of; I defy anyone to listen to, "I Woke Up In A Car," or "She Paints Me Blue" and not be a lil' uplifted by the nugget of hope McMahon's vocals hold out.

The band only put out three albums and an EP before going on a hiatus. Initially that hiatus was supposed to be temporary so McMahon and the other band members could explore other avenues. Hell, McMahon formed his own side project, Jack's Manniquin, that...well, I wasn't as thrilled with...and then was diagnosed with leukemia. This made the hiatus permanent, although in light of McMahon's remission the band has recently reunited to tour in support of a greatest hits album.

"Punk Rock Princess" is the first single off their first major release, Leaving Through The Window, and it's one of my favorite tracks of theirs. At its core it's a natural descendant of those silly pop singles where a guy or a girl (or both in duet form) pledge his or her love to the romantic interest of their choice...only this is Love In The Oughts, which means that this star-struck teen's perception of puppy love has been filtered through the dirty glass of a post-modern he's not pledging to hold her hand and buy her an ice-cream soda; he's pledging to let her 'think him whole' and to be her 'Garage Band King.' And throughout all this, he's not even sure this is the love of his life--he's accepting, even looking for, things missing in her that he can't replace. He's accepting that this is not going to be forever, that her very nature assures that the relationship won't last, so all he wants is to be her, ummmm, heroin....

And I have to admit--I personally don't think that this song would hit me so hard if it wasn't for the work of both drummer Brian Ireland and guitarist Josh Partington. The licks these two put down fills out the song, amplifying the desperation in McMahon's vocals. I like to imagine the rhythm created by those two are McMahon's heartbeat as he's confessing his attraction to the object of his affection, ready to be shot down even after he assures her he is not expecting more than a brief respite from their respective loneliness.

I think it's telling that while there are one or two songs from Jack's Manniquin that I tolerate, even like, I have never had the sheer mania for that later project that I have for Something Corporate. But then, even with McMahon promising a fourth album sometime soon out of nostalgia, I kind of wonder if Something Corporate is better served by just being a band that existed for three years, put out a consistently great body of work, and then disappeared forever.

Here is the official video....

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