This week, the house feels hotter than it did last week. The thermostat is set to the same number - 76 - but the difference is that last week it was 100 degrees every day and this week, temperatures have backed down a little bit. It's in the mid-to-high 80s and it sure does feel different, but now, stepping into the house from the outsides doesn't feel as refreshing. It feels stuffier and the contrast is not good enough any longer, yet, we were able to live perfectly in the 76 degrees last week. This week, it doesn't feel as right. We're crankier. We're thinking about dropping the coldness. We probably shouldn't, but we'll see how it all plays out.
Austin, Texas' Love Inks makes us think about air-conditioning and our own conditioning, what we can take, what we can survive through, what we need to be surrounded by to feel as if we're going to be able to make it. Lead singer Sherry LeBlanc sings as if she's full of mint, blasting it out with her words, that kind of refreshing cool that comes with no effort whatsoever. She's her own central air system, though that mint, there on the inside, burns a little, coming from a place where it's a little hotter.
Their songs come from places where something just went down, but now, by the time we got there, things are being cleaned up and you'd never no the difference. I read the other day that when Malcolm X was assassinated in Harlem in 1965, police and investigators spent four hours studying the scene before custodians came in to mop up all the blood and clean the mess so that a planned youth dance could still happen in that same room later that night. Certainly, the events that LeBlanc sings about aren't the equivalent of a murder. There's no blood spilled.
Her songs are steeped in the indifference of a thankless world and the aloneness of some empty bodies, the overriding thought that they just need to get away from here. Within the spines of these songs, however, are feelings that whatever happened before can be escaped, like they never happened. You get this very calming feeling, in these silky, dance pop gems - not unlike those of Tennis, Summer Camp and Cults, of the new breed popping up these days - as if you're going to be alright. You're moving out of the heat, away from the fight or the fights. Things are cooling down. We're cooling off and we couldn't be happier about it. It has nothing to do with the thermostat, or what it's telling us.
*Essay originally published August, 2011