April 7, 2014

"Cheap Sunglasses" by RAC feat. Matthew Koma

I once had a pair of RayBan sunglasses. They were an awesome graduation gift from my dad: gunmetal aviators, fit perfectly to my face, with just enough tint. They were tucked away in my backpack when it was stolen a couple years ago. Damn, I miss those glasses. As a poor replacement, I bought a collection of cheap sunglasses from an online retailer called RedStar, and they are really cheap. Nothing like the RayBans I once had. Because of this somewhat traumatizing experience, I find myself strangely drawn to this week's free single.

André Allen Anjos has now taken over the RAC project.
RAC stands for the Remix Artist Collective, and was originally exactly what that implies: a group of artists who developed remixes of any song they saw fit, ranging from indie obscurity to pop songs by Lady Gaga and the like. Over the course of about five years, they produced more than 150 remixes (all of which are available on SoundCloud). All that remains of the original collective is André Allen Anjos, the group's founder, who has now taken over the RAC name. As he writes on his website, "RAC used to stand for Remix Artist Collective. That name doesn't make much sense anymore. Who cares?"

Anjos carries on, and has just released Strangers, a full album of original songs in collaboration with other artists that RAC worked with in the past: Tokyo Police Club, Katie Herzig, Tegan and Sara and Matthew Koma, who sings this week's free single. The result of this blessed union is a tight electronic pop song that commits to an elaborate lyrical metaphor. My favorite.

Turns out Anjos is a fan of the marimba. As a former band nerd and member of the drum line, I have a soft spot for it, and the instrument has seen some usage in pop music as of late. It's a cute riff that sets the tone for the song. When the verse starts we hear Matthew Koma's voice and the first bit of electronic synth work by Anjos. The lyrics are a little nonsensical, but it's clear that Koma is singing about a girl. The message of the song is kind of like that of Mike Posner's "Cooler Than Me", if you remember that song from 2010. There is a girl that puts up a front, and makes herself seem artificially better than those around her.

Koma's lyrics take this message a step further with some clever lyrics about sunglasses.

"Your limousines get stuck in traffic, and we all know you're made of plastic.
You may seem like something classic, but you're cheap sunglasses
And they'll see right through you."

The electronic influences and drum beats pick-up through the rest of the song, strategically dropping at the right moments for effect and the song carries on in the typical verse-chorus fashion. The end.

I wasn't sold on this song on one listen. RAC's electric pop influences and the passive singing voice of Matthew Koma is all very reminiscent of Vampire Weekend for me. And I hate Vampire Weekend. It took me a number of playthroughs to get beyond that sugary sweet musical shell to appreciate the usage of percussion, the danceable beat and the excellent musical flow as the song swells and shrinks. Having listened to more of RAC's work (old and new) this isn't my favorite song, but it's not bad by any means. As an introductory track to the rest of the Strangers album and the backlog of other RAC work, it does a great job. Certainly worked for me. For that, I give "Cheap Sunglasses"

3.5 out of 5

1 comment:

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