Sometimes I think critic types put too much emphasis on lyrics. They forget that these words weren't necessarily written to stand alone on a written page like a novel or a poem. They're part of a song, designed to complement the music, so what those words sound like when sung should be as important as what the words actually mean.
To prove my point I present Gliss. The Los Angeles-based trio recently spent time at Yahoo! Music taping an exclusive live performance session and an interview. When I listen to the band's performance of "Morning Light," frankly I can hardly make out a single word, except for "your heart," because it sounds as if singer/guitarist Martin Klingman has a mouthful of marbles, but you know what? It doesn't matter because the band has such a cool sound, beginning with the Spectorian/the Jesus & Mary Chain intro and continuing through the ringing guitars and boy-girl harmonies that will remind you of some of your favorite lost '80s post-punk bands. After all, the history of rock 'n' roll--from the Kingsmen's "Louie Louie" and tons of Bob Dylan and Van Morrison to R.E.M.'s Murmur and your favorite death metal-- is littered with classic tuneage featuring lyrics that are indecipherable. Check out Gliss' performances below.
When I first saw a Gliss video I marveled at the fact that blonde Danish-transplant Victoria Cecilia was playing bass, seemingly following the great tradition of cool bands with female bass players that includes the original line-up of the Dream Syndicate, Smashing Pumpkins and Silversun Pickups. But Cecilia doesn't just play bass. She, like her bandmates Klingman and David Reiss, is a multi-instrumentalists and often switches instruments. But the members of Gliss don't do it just for kicks, like the late, great Replacements. They can actually play. Watch the band's exclusive performance of "Beauty," another fine track from the recently released Devotion Implosion, below. You'll note that Cecilia has moved behind the drum kit, while Reiss picks up the slack on bass, and Klingman once again handles guitar and the marble-mouthed vocals.
Jumping back to my thoughts about lyrics and enunciation, I do think song titles are important. Either rightly or wrongly, song titles frame the subject matter of the song in the listener's mind, as is the case with Gliss's "Lovers In The Bathroom." Again, Klingman slurs his way through the song, only enunciating a few key words here and there, but we already know that the song has the slightly sleazy subject matter dealing with said "lovers in the bathroom." Exactly what those lovers are doing in the bathroom is anyone's guess. Maybe you can decipher Klingman's vocals and lyrics. Me, I'm content just grooving to the band's cool sound. You'll note that in the performance below, Klingman and Reiss once again pull the all switcheroo with the former playing bass and the latter now handling that buzzing guitar for all its worth. Check out the performance and the band's exclusive interview below.