It's Pretty OK
Solving the paradoxes of our time since 2016

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A Pretty OK Song: "Hurts to liv" - LIV

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In case you hadn't noticed, there's a huge wealth of musical choices in the world today. Even before you get to the infinite universe that is streaming music, if you go to a store that sells music, you'll probably be able to buy CDs, LPs, or cassettes from hundreds—maybe even a thousand?—different artists. Back in the day, your selection might have been as slim as 50 artists, or your local shop might have only sold one genre of music!

Things get even cooler when members of different bands get together and form a supergroup like LIV, the Swedish/American band made up of Lykke Li, Andrew Wyatt and Pontus Winnberg (of Miike Snow), Björn Yttling (of Peter Björn & John), and producer/songwriter Jeff Bhasker. You should familiarize yourself with all five of those individuals if you haven't already, but first, we're going to check out LIV's newest track: "Hurts to liv."

"Hurts to liv" was written in memory of Li's mother and Wyatt's father, and according to a Vogue interview, is meant to capture the cycle of love and loss. The song mostly focuses on the feelings associated with loss, but explains that those would not be possible without first loving: "Sometimes we forget to live / And be in love / Cause it hurts / To live".

It's a beautifully simple ballad with little instrumentation; most of the legwork is done by the divine combination of Li and Wyatt's voices. The vocal track is like a fine piece of salmon: It's of such high quality that you don't need much seasoning for it to shine. The song has a slow-moving "country desert heatwave" sort of vibe that almost makes it seem like it wouldn't be out of place at a '60s folk festival.

On the lyrical side of the equation, due to the song's slow pace, the singers don't actually say that many words. The allusions that they make all revolve around dealing with loss and the hardships that we face. It's a simple message, but a powerful one, especially with the duet vocals leading the way over spare backing instrumentation. The layering of the vocal harmonies during the lines where both Li and Wyatt are singing is incredible.

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Okay, back to what I started the post with: the overwhelming mega-universe of musical choices.

Last weekend, I was hanging with friends at a bar when one of them asked if I had ever heard of the band Glass Animals. I love Glass Animals, so my immediate reaction was "Of course I've heard of Glass Animals. What, have you not?" All he could come back with was "Uh, no..." When I thought about that conversation the next day, I was reminded that the bands that are important to me may not be important to everyone. This was an important realization for me; next time a friend tries to introduce me to a band that I already know and love, hopefully I won't belittle them, but will instead consider that their musical journey has probably been way different from my own. It's good to keep those self-reflective juices flowing, after all.

Until next week.

-Ian Wood