Good songwriting is far from a lost art in these times, but a good song sure sounds a lot different. Artists like Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, Passion Pit, and many others write incredible songs that are so very simple at their core, however, after they've been given the full expansive production treatment, they sound anything but. The way they do that is awesome, of course, but sometimes it's nice to hear an excellent song stripped down to its very essence. I'll say it like this, sometimes a painter paints his subject beautifully, but he feels the painting needs a detailed, colorful background to complete it. Other times, however, and probably much more rarely, the painter paints the subject so perfectly that it is complete in and of itself. The same goes with songs. Sometimes a song is so good it is best heard the old-fashioned way, with nothing but a guitar and a human voice. Also, some backing harmonies, an egg shaker, and a xylophone, in the case of this song by London's Five Minute Pop Promo.
"You Can Do What You Want" is one of the earliest songs I heard from the trio, and it's always stuck with me. It is so simple yet addicting that it keeps me coming back for more like a good drug. The song is basically, and I realize this is a heavy word to throw around, but I'ma do it anyway ... perfect. That's right. It is perfect in the sense that I don't think it could be any better or more complete than it is. It has everything it needs and everything it ever will need in its minimal arrangement.
For starters, it is all based around one of the most beautiful chord progressions I've ever heard. I have to suspect that the progression was copied from another song because I just can't believe that no one has ever thought of it before 2012. But, whether it's original or not--bonus points if it is, of course--it is just so good. If the entire song never moved on from that progression, it would still be a favorite of mine. But, after the beautiful intro, in comes David Roman with his lovely singing to add even more magic. His lyrics hint at the tragedy of soldiers fallen in battle, young men sent away to die. We hear about it first from the women talking in the city, and then we visit the "young man" who sent them away, laughing in his bedroom about it. Each time the subject is brought up, it is dismissed with the hook, "It doesn't matter/ The story is over/ You can do what you want." After the young man in his bedroom, the song hits the bridge, and oh, what a bridge. Roman goes soulful as all hell and gorgeous Beach Boys-esque harmonies rush in accompanied by an egg shaker. It gets seriously groovy for a bit. Then, it all finishes up with a final verse, accompanied by the aforementioned xylophone. Now the women are joking, "How did they know were they were last night?" Once again, it doesn't matter; you can do what you want.
This is one of those songs where the lyrics could mean all kinds of different things to different folks, but, to me, I think they serve as a parable about how desensitized people are now to violence and tragedy. We hear about soldiers dying overseas on the news all the time. We feel bad for a bit. Then, we go to the bar or watch some reality TV. It doesn't matter. The story's over. I'm going to do what I want now. But, that's just my interpretation. The point here is, well, this is a damn good song and I want you all to listen to it. Oh, and did I mention it is only two minutes long? Like I said, a simple, perfect song. I was really glad to see so many people enjoyed Five Minute Pop Promo's Brand New Adults EP, and I hope you'll like this tune too. Keep spreading the word about them. These guys are very talented and they deserve the buzz.