Saturday, 7 May 2011

I wish I'd made this - #3 Private Eye by Alkaline Trio

It's very rare for me to listen to a song on repeat - the exceptions being when I'm scrutinising a track or reviewing my own work - but when I got my hands on the album From Here to Infirmary I just couldn't help myself. It took me a couple of weeks to wean myself off of prolonged periods spent listening to just this one song.

Alkaline Trio start the album as they mean to go on; there's no build up, no long intro, the track launches straight in with an urgency that just sucked me in.


The hook hits us straight away, a six-note guitar riff played in octaves. The beat is strong and the crash cymbals add to the momentum. The bass locks in tightly with the drums cementing that driving feeling with a simple variation the third time through the riff that adds enough interest without over-complicating matters.

The lyrics paint a bleak picture that gives me a real sense for the washed-out alcoholic that is our protagonist. I don't know whether this song is about a detective and his relationship with his work or a lover or if our supposed Private Eye is in fact a stalker. I opt for the first interpretation but, whoever he is, he reminds me of Jack Caffery, the Detective Inspector in Mo Hayder's gruesome crime novels.

My highlight is the start of the second half of the second verse. We get our alternative bass line, a subtle change to the hi-hats and a couple of punchy guitar chords. It's just two bars but it provides a perfect punctuation to our story.

There's nothing complicated about this track, it's all about the execution - a perfect combination of a great hook, evocative lyrics and a flawless arrangement.

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