If you think you might have seen a review of this release somewhere amidst these humble pages before, you’d be right. Poor Aim: Love Songs, the latest CD release by the Blow, was previously released as a 7-track EP, having been recorded way back in 2004. But just like classic films and great novels, this collection of songs deserved a revisit. K Records, the Blow’s label home, hasn’t just made a CD version of the EP, they’ve given it the deluxe treatment by adding seven more tracks of remixes!
Let’s back up though, shall we? The Blow is Portland based duo Khaela Maricich and Jona Bechtolt, two names both hard to pronounce and not so easy on the spellcheck. While Maricich started out as a visual artist and a solo musician, Poor Aim: Love Songs was a special project that found the two collaborating for the first time, attempting to write a number of songs based on themes of, as they put it, `misfired affection.’ The result was so satisfying, they remained a duo, releasing one of Treble’s favorite albums of 2006, Paper Television.
There’s no getting around that Poor Aim: Love Songs is as catchy as the Bubonic plague. Maricich’s voice is as full of hipster savvy as Suzanne Vega’s was back in the day, with lyrics as confessional as Liz Phair’s, set to music that sounds as if they spent months chasing Super Mario down a sewer pipe. “Hey Boy” and its multiple choice lyrical reasons for rejection, the near punk drive of “Let’s Play Boys Chase Girls,” and the Police-lifting “Come on Petunia” remain the standout tracks, but the remix versions of various Poor Aim originals are what make this release worth possibly duplicating the title in your collection.
“Hock It” is taken on by YACHT, aka the Blow’s own Jona Bechtolt, and rather than being a Christopher Cross version of the song, the track is now perfectly made for a late night New York dance party, pulsing with raw sexual energy. Strategy turns “The Love That I Crave” into a Daft Punk meets Air `laid back robot’ extravaganza. Lucky Dragons provide what I think is the best remix on the record, a fiddle-backed mixture of modern electro-beats and Old West charm. This of this song as something that could play over the closing credits of either Serenity or its predecessor series Firefly and you’ll have a good idea of what I’m getting at. Two versions of “Hey Boy” follow, one remixed by Maricich herself, turning it into a frenetically paced, high BPM sprint, and the other by Alan Fortarte, a close runner-up for best track, with repeated phrasing of the aforementioned and highly entertaining multiple choice rejections. In this version, Maricich’s voice is made to sound even better than it already is, thanks to some well placed echo effects and layering. It reminds me of what DNA was able to do with Suzanne Vega’s classic “Tom’s Diner.” The Lucky Dragons return to take on “We Are over Here,” a.k.a. a children’s choir repetition of the refrain from “The Sky Opened Wide Like the Tide.”
The great thing about well-written pop songs is that there is very little one can do to mess them up. (With the exceptions of course being the Police’s own reworking of “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” and the American Idol contestants’ version of “Float On.”) Every song by The Blow is so giddily infectious, with lyrics that speak to the honesty of the human condition and love in general, that you can’t deny their charms. With this timely re-release of Poor Aim: Love Songs, the Blow also prove that not only can their songs last at least three years and still be incredibly contemporary, but also that they are masters of their own message, remixed or original. The only thing I am left wondering is if there will be a pay-per-view tag-team cage match between the Blow and the Postal Service.
The Postal Service- Such Great Heights / The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
Suzanne Vega / DNA- Tom’s Diner Single