1. “Meraki” At first listen you hear a roaring guitar accompanied with a harmonica similar to a train whistle. When the drums and vocals kick in, you feel like you’re traveling on a train – with the hum of the engine represented in the bass and the “chug-chug-chug” of each snare hit. Even the background vocals resemble a “choo-choo” with their high-pitched “Oooooh” behind the singer’s lyrics. Its catchy riffs and hand claps capture you under its spell.
2. “Honey Hill” The mesmerizing dual-guitar tones possess a haunting, psychedelic sound. The singer sings about the life he used to live on Honey Hill where he “was born…dreamed…waged wars” and such. The image I have when picturing what Honey Hill must have been like is the rickety old house that Jenny grew up in “Forrest Gump.” The tune sings of old days and moments that the singer says “won’t bring back” his girl. It’s definitely a song for listening to when you’re feeling nostalgic about better days and “what ifs” in your life.
3. “Xylophobia” The word means to have an irrational fear of wood, forest, or trees. The song begins with a dismal acoustic guitar and the rumble of an electric guitar playing chords on the beat. When the drums kick in, the song picks up into a landscape of intricate notes. The intensity of the “wah-wah” sound at 3:27 pulls you in and pushes you back out as if it’s trying to get you into the woods, then pushes you out again.
4. “Early Verve” The definite single-worthy song starts off with atmospheric guitars spiraling in and out of each other. The singer extends his range in this song, and the melody he sings is intricately written. “I’m taking my time / Feel it all sinkin’ in / Look at all the faces / And the shape that I’m in.” The song possesses a sense of “Bittersweet Symphony” laced in its songwriting backbone (which is ironic, since the band who performed “Bittersweet Symphony” was The Verve). He sings “Oh love,” repeatedly as the musical background swirls into melodic bliss.
5. “Waves” An arpeggiated electric guitar starts the tune, followed by a rumbling first chord and a tambourine hit. Personally, the song doesn’t get exciting until the 2:28 mark, when it hits the gas pedal and pushes forward. The guitars wail, the drums kick up the notch, and it goes into a full jam session. This is the part of the live show where everyone starts jumping and dancing, until the song goes back to its 6/8 waltz at 3:07.
6. “We Are the World” Possibly one of the most funky songs on the album, the song picks it up from the previous track. The sixteenth-note accents on the hi-hat and the tambourine hits on each half note give the song the driving funk beat the album hadn’t possessed until now. The song reminds me of a mixture of Wild Nothing’s atmospheric tones and a 1970’s disco hit, tossed into a southern rock sound.
7. “For You” The first chord erupts into the strum of an acoustic and the roar of the electric guitar. The crisp percussion kicks in and sets the song into place. The singer confesses “For you, you know I try / For you, I’d surely die / For you, it brings me joy / For you are the reason why” twice before the song sets into a slow, melodic jam. You almost forget it’s a love song because the instruments are too peppy for a serious, romantic tone.
8. “Fistful of Dollars” The guitar strums and the singer recites “Baby, can’t you see, we were all born free? Nothing that you’ve got can hold me down.” Before the second verse kicks in, the singer chants “Love rain, love rain, love rain down on me” and the drums pick up the tune as the singer repeats the first verse. The emphasis on the 2 and 4 of each measure gives the song its worldly, polka vibe that you would hear in Gogol Bordello or DeVotchka. The song really roars starting at 3:16 and carrying that roaring sensation all the way until the four-minute mark when the tune cranks the notch up to 11 with its power-driven wailing guitars.
9. “(Lover) Don’t Go” The drums start the song on a catchy drive. When the singer begins, he sounds off-key and like he’s channeling his inner Eddie Vedder with his slurring mumble and flat pitch. The musical composition carries the song through, but otherwise there’s no excitement factor, until the 4:18 mark when the singer changes the melody and the guitars wail into its effects.
10. “Starfish” A minor-melodic acoustic guitar starts the melancholic song, while organ is so distant in the background, you barely notice it’s there. In fact, I didn’t notice an organ on the album until now. The chorus is the most interesting in regards to vocals as members sing with the lead singer, then add an “aaah” chorus behind his lyrics. If you were in a spaghetti western movie, this song would be playing in the abandoned bar just as a brawl was going on outside and a tumbleweed passed by. The title “Starfish” is interesting – like I mentioned before, I imagine the song in a dry, deserted setting where a gunfight would happen in the 1850s.