Vanessa Carlton - White Houses
Published Tuesday, December 14, 2004 by Abby | E-mail this post
Love/ Or something ignites in my veins/ And I pray it never fades.Download
I always thought Michelle Branch had won the teen songstress 'Oo get me and my inner pain and real instruments' stakes. It was a great vintage clothing-draped bandwagon at the time; take a pretty girl and her angst and eyeliner, prop up all those middle-class melancholy chord sequence with introspection and first love, and watch the mainstream landscape shift beneath your evil svenglai feet. And Michelle was triumphant, at least for a little while (the moment there's a Santana collaboration, you know it's the end). After all, the fervent ache of the 'Goodbye to You' montage- Tara slowly descending the stairs, Buffy and Spike finally succumbing to their destructive passion in the back of the Bronze- well, that was a heart-tug moment. It slammed the door in Miss Carlton's pouting piano-playing face.
But now, difficult sophomore albums side-by-side, I can see how the whedonesque associations elevated that grating balladeer far above her staring-into-the-lonely-rain station. Because this track is a strange fruit far more seductive. And I was always one to let lime juice trickle down instead of syrup.
The song tastes of regret, and dark velvet betrayal. The sweet flesh of those years on the brink of something more; the time I gave myself with innocence and was crushed hard enough to leave half-moon nail imprints pressed on my palms and never offer a thing unconditionally that way again.
The chords are uncomfortable in their clarity, strange falling pattern of repetition and then the build of new strings, fulsome melody. And so it circles with resigned disappointment. You broke my heart, but that's the way it goes I guess. Then suddenly a lull, swelling understatement that unless you listen for it, will pass you by unknowingly. And it does, the first few times you play it slips by as if a whisper. But when the words finally sink in as you're on your way to doing something else, you'll stop. Because it's the point: the one centre of gravity this all revolves around.
Hard to explain/ Rush of blood/ Oh/ And a little bit of pain/ On a cloudy day/ Its more common than you think/ It's my first mistake.