By all rights, Fol Chen's "In Ruins" shouldn't be accessible to a casual listener. The experimental music collective kicks off the track with oddly syncopated bass beats and distorted whispers underpinning spunky riffs from what sounds like a deliberately out-of-tune ukulele. Not exactly radio-friendly. But then vocalist Sinosa Loa's vocals kick in with a bridge that sounds stolen from Top-40 pop. It's a disarming way to sweeten the experimental pot for listeners more accustomed to Pink and Demi Lovato than Portishead. Ditto with the lyrics, which blend an ambiguous post-apocalyptic scenario with super-cute romance:
There's a monument that they say they'll buildOccasionally you'll catch writers in more niche genres -- horror, noir, hard SF, take your pick -- decry a general lack of interest in their chosen field. While I too wish people would take an oh-so-short break from legal thrillers and military thrillers (and thrillers as a whole), Fol Chen teaches us something important: When working outside the mainstream, you have to make the obscure accessible.
To the way things were, but we can't return.
We can slip through the holes in the stories they told,
Take a walk through the ash and the acid rain.
I don't care if the germs eat our books and our brains.
All I want is to see your face again.
(Hat Tip: The Wall Street Journal)