‘Loserspeak In New Tongue’ by Parades
Released in 2010, Loserspeak In New Tongue is from Parades’ album, “Foreign Tapes”. It is 4 minutes and 29 seconds in length and was written by Daniel Cunningham, Tim Jenkins, Michael Scarpin and Jonathan Boulet collectively. It also features guest vocals from Alyx Dennison (from Sydney band Kyü). It was produced by the band and was possibly recorded at Jonathan Boulet’s house in Sydney.
Beginning with a voice and a guitar that mirror each other almost note for note and sounding slightly warped and muffled in the process, “Loserspeak…” confounds the listener with a strange and unconventional time signature/rhythm. The voice/guitar combination provides the backbone to the large majority of the song and allows the drummer to really experiment with drum fills and at times provide the standout aspect of the song.
The vocals then really kick in and come to the forefront of the recording, along with the intricately played drums, a more echoed guitar line and an almost contradictorily simple/straight bass line. The lyrics [Oh so tired/Oh so weak/I’m tied up in loserspeak] become more prevalent and are extremely easy to make out as opposed to the warped and muffled lyrics in the intro.
Then, at the 0:36 mark, the music stops and a single bas note is heard along with an ethereal sounding vocal line and a straight beat being played hi-hat that gradually gets joined by a bass drum and the second chorus is underway.
The ethereal vocals then make way for the lyrics [Oh so tired/Oh so weak/I’m tied up in loserspeak] and the song switches back to a repeated verse, the piano also makes it’s first appearance in the song, switching from following the bass at first to then following the guitar and the vocals. The vocals are then joined by a vocal that sits on top of them which is a little bit slower, this sends the existing vocals to the back of the recording and are now backing vocals. This stops the two verses from being identical, while still keeping a repetitive and familiar nature to the song.
The repeated verse makes way for three guitar chords that transition the song into it’s first verse, the intricate drum beat and a similar styled guitar is then introduced, which is slowly joined by lyrics, which again are mirrored almost note by note to the guitar. A female voice is also heard quite prominently. It’s quite more laid back, without losing the tempo, which keeps in line with the lyrics.
Guitar Solo 1
The three chords are then played and a more soulful and ethereal section begins. There’s a sprawling guitar line and a voice that seems like it’s from the radio in the very back of the recording. The guitar then spirals down and signals the end of the section.
Guitar Solo 2
The music then falls back to make the guitar (which is now slightly fuzzed) the forefront of the song. It’s definitely a darker feel to this section, which has a very uplifting effect on the final chorus.
The cries of “oh” and “ooh” are again heard and a more upbeat and faster sounding version of the repeated verse begins. It has a sense of urgency and acts as the crescendo of the piece.
The outro is a sample that is around 4 seconds and is looped. To me it sounds like a few guitar chords and notes reversed, getting an almost synthesiser sound. The song then stops abruptly in a weird place and is replaced by a very hard to hear echo.
From a purely musical approach, the most interesting aspect of the song, is the structure. After several attempts at labelling each section I finally settled on the structure above. I also found a few examples of songs that follow a similar structure, “Tomorrow Never Knows” by The Beatle and “Purple Haze” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Blowing in the Wind” by Bob Dylan also follows a similar albeit different structure. While these songs contain repeated verses and a predominant bridge section, “Loserspeak…” contains an alternate verse right before a bridge/solo section, something that neither of the songs mentioned contain.
I searched for songs that followed this structure but I just couldn’t find any. I’m sure songs with this structure exist though, as many songs follow a similar structure.
The song has a weird and unconventional time signature and the guitars are almost african in style.
I did find it very refreshing though, in that it warped the conventional structure and used influenced by all kinds of music (i.e. African, modern rock, electronica), and that’s something that I don’t find with many songs.
Lyrically, the song seems to be about a person growing tired of negativity/low self-esteem [oh so tired/oh so weak/I’m tied up in loserspeak] in a friend (or most likely a love interest) and/or finding themselves believing the negativity being spoken to them. The lyrics at the start of the song are distorted and extremely hard to make out, I think this would be purposeful and possibly is a metaphor for the person not being understood/heard.
“Loserspeak…” has a kind relaxing yet slightly depressing mood and the vocals just accentuate the moods. The alternate verse and the bridge is definitely relaxing compared to the rest of the song and when the solo starts a darker mood starts. This allows the song to create an almost more uplifting last verse, despite the fact it is almost identical to the second repeated verse. This is in line with the lyrics as it makes the listener wonder whether the first two verses were really that depressing, and whether they were getting caught up with “loserspeak”.
The vocals that are heard over the main vocals in the verses [like a bird/fly with wings], sound like they are almost flying over the rest of the recording, giving the song a very ethereal quality and combining the lyrics and music in a very metaphoric way.
I had not heard this song much, and what I first noticed was that I concentrated on the instruments that were being played on top of the rhythm more than anything else. When I thought about what I listened to in other songs when I concentrated on them, I found that most of the time I was listening to the guitars or the bass in the songs, depending on what was less basic/straight, but I would be concentrating on a particular aspect of the song for the whole song. In “Loserspeak…” though, I found that when I was listening to the song, I was switching from instrument to instrument depending on what I was finding more interesting in the song at the time. For example, in the first verse I was listening to the drums, while in the second verse I was listening to the piano. I would say that the fact I was “feature listening” for the first few listens of the song, probably influenced how I listened to the song in the future listens.
Towards the end of the week of listening to the song, I began to listen to it in different settings (i.e. on the train, walking to class, while reading, while at a party…). I found that when I was distracted (even partially) when listening to the song, I was pulled in by the vocals, often I was barely listening and then out of nowhere the vocals just grabbed me and forced me to listen. I found this pretty interesting because it was the aspect of the song that I didn’t really get drawn to when listening to the song with a kind of focus. At the party I found myself focussing on a different piece of the song, the guitar throughout the song are situated in the same spot in the song (just below the vocals) and at the party I found myself sort of being drawn towards them, I put this down to the guitars really acting as a backbone to the beat of the song.
I found that through the week, I started to become more familiar with the rhythm and time signature. This made me really listen to the song like I would any other, I started to really get into the song and found it getting stuck in my head (although that could have solely because I listened to it so much, rather than actually being catchy).
I have concluded that “Loserspeak…” is an extremely unique and unconventional song and what makes this so surprising is that the band is Australian. I’m not criticising Australian bands, but it’s totally unexpected for a song like this to be made by an Australian band. It goes against what most people think of the majority of Australian music and uses influences that most Australian bands don’t even attempt to use in their music. But even as unconventional as it is, when I listen to the song, I still think of the band as “Australian”, maybe it’s a lingering accent on the vocals.
Out of everything this song has to offer, I think the most remarkable thing is the fact that it still sounds “Australian” after everything.