Review Summary: Do you start to cry? / Not because you die, but because you die still hoping?
There’s something in the way that Tim Baker matter-of-factly exclaims, “This is how I feel” on the Plan Your Escape EP’s second track, Swing The Cellar Door, that manages to put it all together in one simple phrase; yes. That’s it. Music is about feelings, and expressing those feelings as clearly and concisely as possible is exactly what musicians have been trying to do ever since the art form came into existence. And as the beautiful sounds of the piano, the violin and the cello speak profoundly into the heart of the listener, the simplicity of the statement seems almost ridiculous, almost laughable, but that’s exactly the point. Despite Baker’s claim in the same track that he’s “a really pretentious guy”, Hey Rosetta!’s music contains no pretence of image or intellect, no notion of superior knowledge or informed perspective; it simply is what it is, and it expresses exactly what it aims to express at any given point in any song that you can put your finger on. Both the music and the lyrics that carry it are bare and honest, even when it borders on embarrassing; when The Simplest Thing finishes with the line “You say it’s not my fault that I get so low / But to drown you too, that’s a sick way to love / It’s a sick way to love, it’s a ***ing sick way to love”, the profanity is completely unnecessary but for goodness’ sake it’s HONEST. And if there’s any quality that this EP has that stands about among all the others, it is its honesty: plain and simple, out there for all to see.
The Plan Your Escape EP can be seen fairly easily as a sequel to Arcade Fire’s seminal 2004 masterpiece, Funeral; the lush string arrangements are there, the lyrical themes of life, death and acceptance are there, but most importantly, the emotive, effortless songwriting is completely and utterly there. One could even make the bold claim that the EP is in fact a step up musically from where Funeral was: while that album occasionally suffered from poor production and a lack of confidence in the vocal delivery, this release has neither flaw. The instruments are clearly audible at all times and for the most part they are in good balance; Tim Baker’s voice in particular always shines loud and clear above the rest of the band, delivering his charming lyrics with earnest confidence. All this, not to mention the fact that the band is impeccably tight, perhaps shown the most clearly on one of the hardest rocking songs on the EP, the wildly entertaining third track, Yes! Yes! Yes! The entire 37 minutes of the EP is an absolute joy to listen to, with no filler tracks and seemingly endless inspiration in every phrase.
There are just about a million things I could say while talking about this EP. I could mention all of its incredible swells and climaxes: in the middle section of Another Pilot; at the end of the second verse of Swing The Cellar Door; in the opening piano ballad of The Simplest Thing; in the latter section of the two-part song Lions For Scottie; at the peak of the stunning closer, Hospital Beds. I could talk about how it maintains this incredible youthful energy while its lyrics somehow also manage to discuss some of the most difficult subjects to be ever discussed in writing. I could talk about the final line of Hospital Beds, and how it manages to fill me with equal parts sadness and hope until I feel fit to burst every. single. time. But all I’m going to say now is that if you’re reading this review, you absolutely must listen to this EP. It’s bold, brilliant and most of all, utterly life-affirming in a way that simply cannot be put into words. It’s beautiful. It’s perfect. Listen to it before you die.