Norah Jones dropped a new track Tuesday from her upcoming May 1 LP on Blue Note Records Little Broken Hearts, this single being called Happy Pills. The track and album were produced by Danger Mouse. Take a listen right here:
Clearly, like a lot of Danger Mouse, there's a doo-wop drive to the bass, with a drum line that works almost entirely for want of its simplicity. It sounds kinetically like a wound-down version of Crazy, slower, even in the same key (Em) but serves a more momentous function than when under Cee-Lo's songs. Off the bat, Norah through a saw wave sounds pretty wonky, particularly when overlaid in the pre-chorus and chorus with her pleas for independence in the heavy please just let me go line. When that chorus hits is about the only worthwhile moment here, though the lead-in somehow recalls The Anniversary of all bands (Crooked Crown) and Grimes' downscale falsetto lilt in Oblivion when Jones hits that higher register (working with an indie producer allows these touchstones, no?). The country lilt of the former makes sense considering Jones' recent tenure in Little Willies. However, both marks remind of a bright tonality that plays well against the somewhat desperate lyrics in Happy Pills--I mean desperate in the sense that Jones is really reaching outward to reestablish an inner peace. While there's nothing particularly groundbreaking here, it's how upfront Jones manages to be that pushes the track above meh. Here's the breakdown:
Trying to pick up the pace, trying to make it so I never see your face again. A strong opening that implies the subject is stuck in place but Jones is temporally unlimited. The clear directive momentum of the track underlines this-it's a forward tonality without a key change. Jones will not stray from her goal.
Time to throw this away. Want to make sure that you never waste my time again. In interesting back-to-back commentary of waste. In order for Jones to no longer waste her own time, she must literally make waste of the situation. Complex poetics are at work here.
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How does it feel, oh how does it feel to be you right now, dear? Though demanded of the song's subject, an interrogative demanding the self-assessment of the audience always brings things back to reality.
You broke this apart, so pick up your piece and go away from me. Jones is generous. She'll allow you to have what you brought to the table. Just repair it at another table. In another restaurant. In another city.
Please just let me go now, please just let me go. Would you please just let me go now? Please just let me go. A plea for independence, bordering on demand.She'd be free but the subject of this song can't seem to get the F away.
I can't get you out of my head. Get out of my head. Get out. this is bordering on obsession, but the preceding line demands the notion of imposition.
Never said we'd be friends, trying to keep myself away from you cause you're bad bad news The strangest line, considering it seems Jones new what she was getting into.
With you gone, I'm alive, makes me feel like I took happy pills and times stands still. An admission of drug use? It implies that to know what happy pills feel like, you'd have to have taken them, no? I'm in.
How does it feel to be the one shut out? You broke all the rules. I won't be a fool for you no more. This is Jones' you're going to get yours moment. Now stay away. Forever.