The concept of ambiguity in music is a strange thing. When used properly it is capable of providing an intended audience with a sense of profundity simply by offering concise, generalized sentiments. There even seems to be some sort of magic to this concept. It’s as if for a moment your logical mind just decides to turn itself off as an awful breakup cliché almost makes you feel like balling your eyes out. However, banking on this ambiguity as lyrical genius idea doesn’t always leave you on the steadiest ground. Most songs that traffic in ambiguity end up feeling just that, ambiguous.
And unfortunately that is exactly where The Changes latest album Today is Tonight ends up. Now I say unfortunately because musically Today is Tonight is a fairly engaging record. The production is nice and lush, with layers of sparkly guitars and soft tasteful keys. It’s an indie record with all the sharp edges taken off, leaving nearly all the songs with the feeling of a rainy afternoon spent indoors.
“When I wake” starts off the record, and does well with a pleasantly progressive structure while “The Machine” wins with an uncharacteristically disco tinged chorus. Later “Water of the Gods” even breaks into shameless bouncy fun before running smack into a wall of ill fated Wham-esque backups in the second chorus. (And even then honestly, I kind of like it.)
But just as I find myself enjoying the music I catch a chorus with the lyrics — You don’t care/you’ll tell anyone/you don’t care/it’s not fair –. Now it’s hard to explain just how bad this chorus is, but by the time you hear these words repeated multiple times (including a double chorus at the end of the song) I think you’ll understand. Later I catch another verse that consists of the couplet — All I wanted/is to be wanted — and it’s pretty much over for me. What’s worse is the fact that these are not isolated incidents. These selected lyrics basically read like all of the other lyrics on the album. Slightly melancholy relationship clichés, fueled by repetition, and an absence of any frame of reference.
And in such a state Today is Tonight is suitable only as background music. After multiple listens I imagine it working perfectly as the soundtrack to some sort indie drama. A small film that upon first viewing seems perfectly sound. It’s only after a closer look is taken that you start to notice it ringing a little hollow. Today is Tonight occupies this space. Snapshots of extremely hip couples formed into a final montage, looking attractive and beautiful, but not really saying anything.
– Jared Fiechtner