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On new single "Narcissus" Drive-In call out egomania with winsome melodicism

On new single "Narcissus" Drive-In call out egomania with winsome melodicism

“Narcissus” is the new single by Brooklyn-based alt-rock duo Drive-In and true to its title the song deals with the topic of excessive self-regard which is relevant to music bloggers such as myself seeing as how (let's face it!) music critics can be just as prone to self-mythologizing as musicians (call it the Cameron Crowe Complex!) a tendency that's only been encouraged in the Internet Era with the rise of blogs and nudes shot with selfie sticks (which we're fine with!) and rampant oversharing in general...

…plus given the difficulty of translating music into words—"writing about music is like dancing in your underwear while reading Architectural Digest” or something like that according to one overused quote—it only further encourages music writers to fall back on their own biases and fixations and points of reference and personal anecdotes so that "reviews" such as this one risk being more like a self-absorbed, overly referential reflection of the author's own record collection than an unbiased take on new music...

…which reminds me that I spent a good chunk of yesterday organizing and shelving eight boxes of records recovered from my parents’ attic recently seeing as they were kind enough to store them for a couple years when they moved from Tennessee to South Jersey but now they're moving back and one record I happened across in the process was Having Fun With Elvis On Stage (1974) about which it’s been said that “hearing it is like witnessing a car wreck, leaving onlookers too horrified and too baffled to turn away” over the course of its 37 minutes of between-song stage banter recorded live at Presley’s early ‘70s concerts (but with no actual songs!) edited together collage-style into a postmodern montage of rambling self-regarding incoherence with Elvis reveling in the screams of horny middle-aged women while doling out sweat-dabbed scarves to concertgoers...

…which just goes to show nobody knows narcissism like jump-suited, bejeweled superstar musicians (except for maybe music bloggers!) and so it’s fitting that artists ranging from Alanis Morisette to Róisín Murphy to Napalm Death have grappled with the classical myth of Narcissus and applied its lessons to shitty romantic partners and presidents alike (Róisín Murphy’s take on narcissists is actually rather sympathetic!) with the latest installment being Drive-In’s “Narcissus," the first single from the band's upcoming coming-out EP this is not a rom-com set for release on 11/4/22...

…a song that seamlessly blends modern guitar-based indie rock stylings with an aching 1950s/early-60s style chord progression thus providing the perfect sonic backdrop for Alessandra Rincon’s swooning lead vocals (Ally moved from Baton Rouge to NYC to attend grad school in 2017) and also for guitarist Mitch Meyer's breathy 10cc-style backing vocals (Mitch is originally from Chicago and first met Ally in 2019) and if I were one of those record-collection fixated type of critics I'd probably describe the song as something like Ronnie Spector crossed with Regina Spektor as produced by Phil Spector but that's too narcissistically clever by half…

…not to mention the song was produced by Ryan Erwin (Particle Devotion, Nice Dog) who to the best of my knowledge is not a murderer with bass tones provided by Quinn Devlin and together they evoke a gently-swaying winsome innocence that makes it feel like you should be listening to "Narcissus" on a car radio circa 1953 while consuming a hamburger and strawberry malt at a drive-in diner on your way to meet a blind date at the drive-in movie theater which makes the band's name quite apropos but then again the song's opening lines are “you’re such a fucking narcissist / I can’t believe it came to this” which I don't think you could get away with in 1953 and nevermind having a Tik-Tok account...

 …but it’s the song’s chorus that really breaks down Narcissistic Personality Disorder with great acumen (I don’t wanna be your echo / don’t wanna stroke your ego / don’t wanna be second best to your reflection / cuz last I checked I’m a person) with backing vocals echoing the lead vocals (clever!) while offering a four-point plan for identifying narcissism and guarding against its deleterious effects across four lines which in turn address the narcissist’s insatiable desire for affirmation, their fragile ego, how they tend to turn everything into a competition and to dehumanize anyone who comes into their orbit. So here we have a song about self-care in relation to those who care only about themselves and let it be a lesson to selfish future frenemies and romantic partners and music bloggers everywhere. (Jason Lee)

Published: September 06, 2022 |

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