Matthew Bailey’s You Said I Said is an exercise in emotional parallels. I mean, the album cover shows three adorable and colourful cake people! Hell, the record’s opening line reads, “You said you wanted to gouge out your allergy eyes with a melon baller. I said you’d kill your dream of a second career as a bingo caller” which immediately dismisses any ideas of heartbreak and miscommunication that usual lie with the “you said I said” conflicts.
And yet during the course of his EP, Bailey turns all of this happiness around. A metamorphosis runs free. The moments of lightheartedness fill, suddenly, with a staggering weight. Bailey’s multi-demential baritone voice is at one moment performing a whimsical folk style and the next is in a slow melancholic drawl. It’s quite the ride.
During the emotional upswing of things falls: “You Said I Said,” “All You Ever Wanted,” and “Slow Season.” In each, Bailey’s, with the help of Ivy Mairi and Graeme Moffat, brand of folk-pop is highlighted by the use of keyboards, synths, and bursts of communal singing. Though its playful lyrics (as seen above) and its bouncy rhythm make “You Said I Said” the highlight of these three songs, the other two are not far behind.
Warm and layered, “All You Ever Wanted” most successfully capitalizing on the subtle electronic elements. “Slow Season” (is that a kazoo I hear?!) captures the hopeful feeling when you wake up and realize the winter is finally melting away – “a patient man’s game,” as Bailey sings.
On the downswing lies, “Wet Sands” and “I Live Alone.” In these, the two longest, songs, Bailey considers each beat and word with a beautiful intensity. In “Wet Sands,” the gentle plucks of an acoustic guitar subtly make way for a quiet electronic beat. Unlike the vulnerability of wet sand itself, the song remains steady and level during its entire course. Never straying, it’s entrancing. Similarly, “I Live Alone” feels very focused. Repeating the same melody throughout, Bailey and Mairi’s harmonies bring this saddening tale to new depths.
Whether you’re up or down, Matthew Bailey has something to offer you.
Top Tracks: “You Said I Said,” “Wet Sand”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)