The familiar but unplaceable instrumental sound that introduces and accompanies “Corsica” is not just an instantly engaging sound—its tone resembling a cross between a guitar and a human voice, maybe—but a strong, melodic riff that works as the song’s predominant hook. While I am not any kind of a gear geek (the “obscure and antiquated pedals” used to create the sound don’t intrigue me), I am a sucker for instrumental hooks, which have never been all that common in rock’n'roll, and have gone almost entirely MIA in 21st-century indie rock. While most songwriters prefer to put words to their hookiest melodies, I find that an instrumental melody line or motif at the song’s core adds richness that is at once notable—you can’t help hearing it—and elusive, since you can’t easily sing along to it. Making it that much more notable, says me.
While the hook pretty much carries the song, Jordan Richardson’s vocals are a complementary piece of the puzzle. A purposefully low-quality mic may have generated the thin, overmodulated sound, but check out how effectively this vocal presentation is installed within its aural habitat. Like a magician knowingly guiding our attention away from a trick’s “secret,” Richardson uses the sound of his song to distract us from its bewildering framework: there are verses, and alternate verses, and two related one-line segments of which one or the other may or may not be the chorus, and instrumental breaks, and unnameable extra sections. The two reliable unifying elements are the instrumental riff/hook and Richardson’s oddly processed voice, and they see us nicely through, and make me happy to listen again.
“Corsica” is from Divorce Pop, Richardson’s debut album as Son of Stan. He plays all the instruments on the album, but will tour with a live band. Originally from Fort Worth, Richardson, a drummer by trade, is based in Los Angeles, and has worked with Ben Harper and Ringo Starr, among others. Divorce Pop is slated for release next month on Wizardvision Records, which appears to be Richardson’s imprint.