Memory Tapes – Player Piano (Carpark)
by Victoria Birch
Dear ex-loves of Dayve Hawk,
In the immortal words of that shit film, “He’s just not that into you”. Or wasn’t. Or never will be or whatever. I know this because Dayve told me so. I mean we didn’t have a direct conversation or anything, but listening to Player Piano it’s pretty obvious the subtext is, “I really didn’t give a fuck about you”. If he did your recent history wouldn’t be hanging limp and flaccid from this collection of miserly tunes.
Was he stingy when you hung out? Did you mistake Mr Tight Pockets for Mr Cleverly Charitable? I can see how you could. He appears generous doesn’t he? After all, the album has stuff going on all over the place. An electronic drum beat here, slippery silvery effects there. Things that tinkle, grind and squelch. There’s even proper guitars! And real drums too!
And it’s not like they’re just randomly thrown together. I can see Dayve’s carefully arranged them so they form proper pop songs with a melody and a chorus and everything. Gosh they’re mightily thin though. Insubstantial. I felt like I was mildly hungry when I started listening and pitifully malnourished by the time it all finished.
I’m not quite sure how he did it, but whether it’s the song that begs to be on a John Hughes soundtrack or the one that plods along like a neglected puppy the effect is the same. Everything feels about as weighty as the tsst-tsst-tsst of the MP3 player sat next to you on the bus. The one with the volume set to ‘yeah I’m an anti-social arsehole – what are you going do about it’.
I hope it wasn’t like this for the two of you. I hope your time together was more fulfilling, but something tells me that if Dayve had spent more time tinkering with you and less time marvelling at his Swizz-Bang Digi-Box 3000 things might have turned out differently. You might have stayed together and Player Piano might have boasted an iota of real emotion.
Instead Dayve ambles along like a person who’s vaguely aware of this ‘love’ business but isn’t actually sure how it all works. He says the right things. He sings in a soft-focus kind of way that might make you think he’s overcome by devastation and hurt. Honestly though, all that gentle reverb is just a smokescreen for the fact it’s a vacuum in there. There’s no emotion in that voice. Give those sentiments a tap; they’re as hollow as a News Corp apology
Okay, okay fair enough. What would I know about what you two have been through? It’s been a while since I was spat out the other side by an errant love. That doesn’t mean the memory of whiskey sours and Husker Du’s Candy Apple Grey is ever too far away.
I know loss. It sounds like an inability to stomach anything other than meal replacement shakes. It sounds like a black thought that mushrooms inside your head, forcing all other notions into a cramped hole at the back of your brain where you can’t reach them. It’s infinitely sad. It doesn’t sound like this. Well, not unless you consider the mild irritation of misplacing your dentist’s phone number as an earth-shattering loss (and I’m sure you don’t).
I guess I’m just offended on your behalf. It’s frankly an insult that he should take something as difficult as your break up and blanche it sterile and bloodless. If he’d sung about a visit to the seaside or his journey to work or the day he found a $5 note in his jean pocket (the pair sat at the back of the wardrobe that he hadn’t worn for like ages), I might have been more amenable to Player Piano. I’d have married the unremarkable sentiments with his unremarkable music and got on with my day.
But he didn’t and he’s not giving you the heartfelt record you or I deserve.
Don’t worry though, as they say there are plenty more fish in the sea. Like this guy: