Sunday, January 29, 2012

Song #104 of 9999 - Pure by The Lightning Seeds

Song #104 of 9999

Title: Pure
Artist: Lightning Seeds
Year: 1990
Album: Cloudcuckooland

On this final day of my week featuring songs from 1990, I had to make a tough decision. Go with the big hit or go with a good song many have never heard or don't remember. No song made a greater impression in 1990 than Sinéad O'Connor's gorgeous cover of Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U." Jane's Addiction also scored big with the rollicking "Been Caught Stealing." And don't call it a comeback, but LL Cool J returned to the charts with "Mama Said Knock You Out." 

In the end, I followed the advice found in the lyric of my featured song, which reminded me that "feelings, not reasons, can make you decide." I just really like this song and it makes me happy listening to it and sharing it. The Lightning Seeds is basically just one guy, Ian Broudie, a music producer from Liverpool, who produced a lot of synth pop in the late 1980s, including Echo and the Bunnymen, Icicle Works, and The Fall. Supposedly, "Pure" is the first song he ever wrote from start to finish and it turned out to be his biggest hit worldwide and his only song to hit the charts in the US.

"Pure" has a melancholy character despite its upbeat tempo and stays true to its title with just two chords for the verse and four for the chorus, never straying from its home key of E Major. The vocal melody in the verse (and, to an extent, the synthy ostinato) adds a bit of complexity to the A Major chord by emphasizing the major 7th. It's this almost incidental dissonance that contributes to the dreamy quality and evokes some sadness. What really struck me through this analysis is how similar The Lightning Seeds are to Belle and Sebastian, who didn't emerge until six years later. I don't recall ever hearing these two bands mentioned in the same breath and I wonder if there is some connection.

Anyway, enough theorizing. Enjoy the song and I'll see you tomorrow in 2000!

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