Dirty Dr. Seuss

Achoo! I’m congested this week. So I’m celebrating with a nasally, breathy, heady song that I don’t quite understand, with lyrics like this:

You're like the moon in a basket of wheat
You rose out of the roses
Right under my mouth

Ought is a band I’ve never heard of before “Desire” came on my Discover Weekly. And I’ll probably never hear from them again because after some Wikipedia-ing I learned they recently broke up. But let’s live in the present moment for a second, shall we?

A punky Talking Heads-like voice paired with an alternative/indie feel, this track intrigued me with both its lyrical and musical build up. The song opens with a speaker full of hindsight-bias referencing something that was “never gonna stay.”

Since the song is called “Desire,” it’s no surprise there’s a balance of both sensual and sweet lyrics mixed throughout, with sexy references to mouth and taste in lines like “I could taste it in your paint” and later “You’ve got creases in your face, the kind that give you grace.”

We get this sense there’s a deeper realization coaxed between kisses:

Didn't I taste it, feel it and know
In so many ways, so many ways
The feel of your honey in the corner of my mouth
Like a loop around the block
Like a shadow in your notebook

It’s also jam-packed with literary devices, from alliteration and assonance to fun rhyme and word play. The speaker pokes fun at form itself:

Oh c'mon what's based in rhyme doesn't matter
Now we pause the tape for some laughter
I won't accept the conceit any further
I will return it to you in a fervor

Weaving in descriptors like “passionately painted” and “remarkable mellow” with subtle assonance in lines like “pause the tape for some laughter” and “accept the conceit,” this artist is playing with language. And it’s pretty fun to listen to tbh. Like a dirty Dr. Seuss story.

Listening activity: Enjoy it on a rainy day like today.

The breakdown before the third and final verse (~2 minutes in) is where things start to get interesting. There’s a momentum that’s palpable as the beat picks up and Tim Darcy’s voice starts to really crack. This is the earworm moment for me:

You got good timing and you listen blindly
You're a street fighter, no prize fighter, well
Desire, desire
It was never gonna stay (Never gonna stay)

Building up to the revelation the speaker’s been hinting toward the whole song: “Desire, desire,/ It was never gonna stay (Never gonna stay)” where a cult-like chorus joins in to confirm.

This song grapples with ephemeral desire, and ultimately, its disappointing end. But don’t worry – the outro leaves a little room for breathing, jamming out, and healing in the last minute. Enjoy.

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