We got way off base once we started letting songs get longer than three minutes. Pop music is supposed to be quick dumb fun, and anyone who makes me sit down and listen to their inane chorus repeat twenty times as a track stretches out to five minutes needs a better producer or a proper ass beating. Which is why I was so happy to hear John Myrtle’s new track, ‘How Can You Tell If You Love Her’, the first preview of his upcoming debut LP Myrtle Soup.
The track, all sunny melodies and skiffle rhythms, actually interrogates the grey areas of love and passion, as a good song should. Frequently, songwriters will focus solely on the good or bad: the anxiety or the adoration, the passion or the problems. Myrtle takes the complicated feelings of infatuation and distils them to their least pretentious and most infectious.
“I had just broken up with a long term girlfriend who I had partly moved to London to be with, and I had just begun seeing someone who told me she only wanted a casual type of thing going,” Myrtle explains. “I remember feeling like everyone I had known always seemed to doubt love in some way, and I wrote the lyrics to this song with that in mind. I was unsure of what the future held for me, and I felt like singing this song was quite cathartic, at least it screamed out that I wanted certainty in my life and answers.”
Some might call this retro. Yes, it sounds perfectly tailored for 1965, right down to the back-to-basics production and instrumentation, but that just means that it sounds like peak bubblegum with all the fat trimmed. The acoustic guitar drives the rhythm as much as the drums do, and the entire song serves that cheekily simple melody. A quick guitar solo, a final middle eight, verse, and chorus, and we’re out in under two minutes. All killer, no filler. Brilliant.
Check out the video for ‘How Can You Tell If You Love Her” down below. Myrtle Soup is due out June 3rd.