Wit is a really very difficult thing to master in song form. It can come across as disingenuous or condescending. Humour is even more awkward. How do you infuse humour into a form which takes itself so seriously without becoming the butt of the joke itself? Those kind of artists are few and far between and even that might be overstating the point. Aside from The Moldy Peaches duo of Adam Green and Kimya Dawson and their ‘anti-folk’ sub-genre, there’s a real absence of any credible humorous and witty artists; because, of course, it’s extremely difficult.
Humour is almost never associated with modern popular music, but that’s not to the say the songs on Rainbow Reservoir’s EP Love Me are simply jokes, they’re absolutely not. It’s to the credit of Rainbow Reservoir and its founder, American ex-Pat Angela Space, that the songs become more than simply amusing and deprecating observations. She’s removed any layers of self-preservation and completely sacrificed herself to creating this jarring subtext beneath what could be construed as simple fun. And maybe it is, or maybe it’s both.
Her impressionist lyrics create vivid and abstract images, expanding into fantastical imagination. Beneath the simplified vocabulary and naïve narrative voice of the EP is a haunting message. As with all great comedic comment its purpose isn’t just to entertain. Once you read into the subversive and melancholic undertones, the tracks transcend their appearance as amusing parodies. Rainbow Reservoir combine polarised references (‘sparkly lips’/’scabs’) and imagine colourful fantasy in mundane reality. The vast spectrum from floorboards to monsters is indicative of the impressionistic immediacy of childhood. Each of the four tracks is ironic and ridiculing with final track, ‘Scaredy Cat’, exemplifying the humour and contradiction: “I’m afraid of my rolling reproduction, I’m afraid that I am not good enough. Now I’m afraid I have said too much.” Amounting to naivety, paranoia and acerbic comment on social expectation.
Love Me satirises both this character as a product of society and the optimistic humour of self-deprecation as catharsis. The music is purposely joyful, happy and childish; as if the EP were a nursery rhyme, with subject matter which is both real and fictional. Space’s vocal is a jaunty falsetto, beautiful yet distinctive and it serves to mislead as well. We have what appears on the surface to be a simple character, with simple tales of life as she experiences it. Her frailties and her insecurities are laid bare as she lilts: “Welcome to my weird little world, I am you’re weird little girl.” It is funny; it is entertaining. But what makes it brilliant is the intelligence and the wit of both the entertaining story and the subverted allusions.