There was a star riding through the clouds one night, and I said to the star, ‘Consume me.” – Virginia Woolf
I read an article not too long ago about the types of people you will fall in love with during your twentys. In his “thought,” Ryan O’Connell (one of my personal favorite people in the world who I have yet to meet) cleverly describes the good, the bad, and the somewhat uncomfortable types of people we will come to love during these weird youthful-but-adult shaping years. While I agree with everything he wrote, Ryan failed to touch upon the all-consuming love; a type of relationship that is both excellent and incredibly dangerous. Let’s call it the first love syndrome. A person comes into your life and completely turns it upside down.
Perhaps you discover all these new things about yourself you didn’t know you were capable of. Perhaps you’ll find your ability to trust, or even something as small as finding the courage to try a new food because this person brings out an adventurous side in you. Whatever it may be, this consumption is not out of need, but out of some thing between wanting and curiosity. You don’t necessarily need this person to “complete” you, but you also know you can’t be without them and in that sense you can’t and don’t want to let go of them.
Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine gives us a vulnerable glimpse into that moment of clarity in realizing the intensity of a relationship. In this track off her sophomore album, Ceremonials, her relationship is the ocean. Deep below sea-level there is nothing but ocean around you. I hesitate to say it’s cliche, but the ocean is the most appropriate allegory for this type of love. Put yourself in Welch’s mind here for a bit and imagine being in this allegorical ocean with this other person. The relationship is passionate and already all-encompassing, but the surface of the ocean, however, is tumultuous and bipolar. You have a choice to either stay on the surface and face whatever the ocean throws your way risking the strength of the relationship or you find it in yourself to let the ocean consume you and swim to the floor where the storms are above and the only test is for the endurance of the heart.
Admittedly, this track was one of my least favorite singles from the disc. My mind’s been changed, though, after hearing this track. Clams Casino has stripped away the original track’s pop ballad elements for low-fi electronica. A minimal production of muted drums, a heavy bass murmur, and looping background echos put the focus on Welch’s stunning vocal performance. It’s a slow sonic descent into the ocean of Welch’s tale where two and a half minutes in Clams places us on the ocean floor, cuts out the lead vocals, slows down the backing vocals and creates the auditory illusion that we’re hearing this song underwater. It’s the song’s most vulnerable moment that allows for Welch to chant “Deliver me” over the “never let me go” loop in a spiritual acceptance of her new possession.
And it’s over
And I’m going under
But I’m not giving up
I’m just giving in.”
No matter where you are today put this on and just be for a bit. Whether you believe in Welch’s story or not, Clams Casino has given us a musical track that’s spiritual in its own cathartic quality.