There was a time in my life when the only thing that would quell my anxiety was standing in a crowd of sweaty people watching a band play. I’d go to a show every other night, I wasn’t picky, and I often went alone. Here’s the thing, though: when you go to shows a lot, you start to recognize people, then you inevitably embarrass yourself in front of them. It’s a lot like being a bar regular; once the gig becomes routine, going out stops being a distraction and becomes a social engagement. And sometimes, social engagements are exhausting.
Bellows’ “Orange Juice” reminds me of that fatigue, and it’s not just because Oliver Kalb sets the scene in the Brooklyn DIY venue Palisades (RIP?) in the second verse. The song starts at the end of an argument, when Kalb sings his opening admission over an ominous, massive drum beat. “Drinking orange juice from a tonic water bottle/ I hate the way I always lose my cool,” he sings with an inflection that may or may not be auto-tuned. Bellows’ vibe has evolved over the years from the noisy folk of 2011’s As If To Say I Hate Daylight to this year’s forthcoming Fist & Palm, which is one of the most unconventional pop albums I’ve heard in a very long time. “Orange Juice” might be one of the best example of Kalb’s inventive melodies and the way he structures small realizations around big, crashing arrangements. “Orange Juice” lacks subtlety, and that’s what makes it so good. It’s a song about hating yourself for acting like a fool in a public setting where being cool is, and always will be, important. It’s an ode to late night fuck-ups, a loud and apologetic pop song about the relationships that matter even when you make mistakes. Listen below.
Fist & Palm is out 9/30 via Double Double Whammy.