Francisco the Man, “Broken Arrows”

Ari Spool

Photo by Sleepy Brother Wright

Is this the second golden age of the extended pop song? The first was in the early '70s, when the acid finally broke through to the mainstream in the form of the classical-pop masterpieces produced by groups like Electric Light Orchestra, Vangelis, and Deep Purple. Those artists were obsessed with minutae, pulling from extended musical training to really get the vibe going over long songs that seemed to never end and had movements, verses, choruses, and solos for days.

But now, we have a different phenomena, possibly with its roots in the Pacific Northwest, where the combination of a countrified wail is placed over a fuzzy pop soundtrack, and then just taken on a ride in the back of an old pickup with a big scruffy dog – this is what Francisco the Man is doing. As the pickup (I imagine it to be a rusty red) curves around different corners, we see new landscapes; mountains, deserts, the ocean. The song has no jagged time changes or other aspects that would distract you from a generalized ideal of aural beauty, but the sound builds in a way that lets you know that the thought being put in isn't any less intentional than the classical rock masterpieces of yore. And ringing in at more than six minutes on this Small Plates b-Side, released next week, we know that Francisco the Man gave their musical ideas room to wander.

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