I love Neko. She’s one of my favorite singers ever, and a hell of a songwriter.
1. “Red Tide.” Neko does sinister really well, and I think one reason it always sounds so good on her albums is that she does it sparingly. The line about seagulls trapped in fishing wire haunts the hell out of me. A lot of songs about environmental degradation hit you over the head—this brushes you on the arm and reminds you to turn around and look at the smokestacks you stopped noticing after you drove past them for the fiftieth time.
2. “Thrice All American.” I’m a sucker for waltzes and accordion, and this has both, so there’s an advantage right there, but man, it’s such great songwriting. Anyone who has ever left their hometown can probably identify with something in here—for me it’s that feeling of knowing that back when I was thinking about nothing more than leaving, I failed to notice what a great place it really was, but I was still right to want to leave for something else.
3. “That Teenage Feeling.” I love Neko songs that give her voice a chance to stretch. She’s unusually in tune with the potential of her instrument, and the refrain of this song uses it brilliantly. And the feeling she’s talking about… it gets harder to access the longer you live, but now I remember the highs and lows that felt so agonizing at the time as energizing. As my keel has evened in adulthood, I sometimes wish I had more of that fire to call upon.
4. “Maybe Sparrow.” This song ties me in knots.
Oh, and let’s round out a top ten: “This Tornado Loves You,” “Deep Red Bells,” “I Wish I Was the Moon,” “Pretty Girls,” “Hold On, Hold On,” “Fever”