“You Are Invited” – The Dismemberment Plan
(Words/music: The Dismemberment Plan, available on Emergency & I, DeSoto 1999 / Barsuk 2011)
Part 2 of 2: “No date, no place, no time, no RSVP”
I usually think about the contrasting sections in this song. Specifically, I think of the way the live band ambushes the programmed beat during the second chorus, only to recede back to the sequencer for the next verse. Recently, I started paying closer attention to the strange sounds that creep in during the end of the second verse. They happen right around the point the narrator goes to the party held by his “ex-thing,” and they’re mixed beneath the fast clicking that runs throughout the entire second beat. Maybe it’s from knowing that the full band waits ready to bust through the chorus, or maybe it’s from the type of tension I’d feel if I went to a party at my ex’s house, but these sounds made the rest of the verse feel nervous. This leads into the cathartic blast of guitar and drums in the verse, but also the relief in the narrative when Ex-Thing repeats the welcoming advice inscribed in the invitation.
It’s this combination of social awkwardness followed by an immediate, almost superhuman transformation that made me think of Scott Pilgrim, the comics (and movie) about a twenty-something slacker who simultaneously fights video game-style villains and the inner conflicts that plague people in their teens and early twenties. It started with this image of a party combined with an anime-like “power up” triggered by this music, but then the message of optimism and proactivity in the song’s invitation struck me as the kind of thing Scott Pilgrim needed to hear. If nothing else, it was the kind of thing I needed to hear, whether from another human being or even just a random piece of mail, when I went through the mix of heartbreak and uncertainty and parylyzing indecision that Scott Pilgrim encountered in the comics. It’s still nice to hear and even better, as the song’s narrator learns in the final verse, to pass on to those who need it more than you do.