Seeker Lover Keeper Seeker Lover Keeper

[Spunk; 2012]

Rating: 2.5/5

Styles: pop music
Others: Feist, Sarah Blasko, Holly Throsby, Sally Seltmann

The interviewer asks: “Do you usually agree on most things?” Sarah Blasko responds: “I think we try to agree…” Then, Holly Throsby: “Yeah.” And Sarah Blasko, again: “Maybe if we sound too agreeable we should disagree every now and then.” Sally Seltmann keeps quiet this round.

Agreeability, like pop-music, seems to exist in the the boring crevices of criticism. Without conceptual foundations or antagonistic posturing, aesthetically speaking, it becomes another iteration of predictable chord progressions and appropriately metered mush. It passes the time, or pleases the ears, and often little else. Agreeability is the stuff of commercials and big-film montages and credit sequences. It is made as if only for the background: utterly inoffensive, passive, nothing to really speak of.

My girlfriend, who has a penchant for Australian pop music, played Seeker Lover Keeper to me last summer, shortly after its initial release. I had forgotten all about it until, recently, I recommended the same album to her, knowing her penchant for Australian pop music.

The origins of music, like the origins of language, are bound to (shared) conjectured histories — possibilities, though, nonetheless imagined. The origins of melody are thought to be in the origins of language. Our precise techniques lack a nameable source. But they were formed and maintained, changing little, however, in our, one might say, nature. And to consider that the origins of what is now agreeable undoubtedly humbles the critical task at hand. It says back to us, “You’ve been making this forever, so to speak, but you’re still making it.” Derrida calls our reliance upon these un-remember-able techniques a form of trust. The technical source becomes like a god, the voice. The offerings, predictably, sing back into… what exactly I’m not, nor is anyone else, sure. But we sing the same songs our ancestors sang, not dissimilarly.

Forgettable and forgotten, it seems, all around, but still playing.

Which is why I’m reluctant to simply level judgements against the music of Seeker Lover Keeper. The performances are competent, but the songs, themselves, lack compositional ingenuity. They go, aurally, where you would imagine they would go — again, again. The voices work well together, harmonizing in three parts, and sound beautiful, but lack significant variation in quality or tone. They blend, but neither ascend nor descend. It is a pleasant, if unremarkable, listen. It is agreeable. It is, undoubtedly, the form, as we have always known it.

(Think Feist, perhaps, for whom Seltmann is known for writing “1234,” made popular on iPod commercials and Sesame Streets across the country.)

My girlfriend called the album “cute.” “Well-written for what it is.” “Enjoyable.” There is a latent sexism in criticism that precludes me from reiterating these claims as final judgements, though I have to admit the same thoughts initially passed through my mind. But is there a forgotten weight that defies initial soundings and appearances?

There is a secret.

The earliest music is said to be an imitation of nature: the cadences of patterns and repetitions of the sounds emanating from the natural order of things. Often, pending the success of the first irrevocable loss and the initial failure of the final one, the first sound a human makes is a cry, a scream. The first experience, Freud knew, is that of separation, and the rest of life, he added, is reclamation. Music, like the life it mimics, becomes a means of identification and of apparent reconnection. It seems. But I am not an historian; I just take guesses: “I think I was born to be in a state of longing, born to be wanting, wanting.” Or,“Though my heart beats strong, there is doubt in my blood, in my bones, like a song never sung, like a night without morning, a promise undone.” And,

We exit this world alone
As fragile as we’re born
A life just like a moment in time
Too vulnerable you chose to hide
It broke your heart to lose someone
As desperate as a loaded gun
You thought you would learn to survive
To make your way alone in this life

I just want you to know
Where ever you go
It follows like a ghost
The burden is not yours to own

You’re a seeker, lover, keeper…

Is this rubbing, repetitively, the scar of separation? Is this the heart at the heart of the origin of music itself? Is this primordially trite? Or are these some words over some predictable, agreeable, pleasant pop-melodies? Do I have to choose just one, ever?

Links: Seeker Lover Keeper - Spunk

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