Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we deliver songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Let Me Take You Out” by Class Actress from the 2010 album Journey of Ardency on Terrible Records.
Originally the brains behind Class Actress, Elizabeth Harper was a solo performer with an acoustic guitar performing in coffeehouses. It was only until the Brooklyn based artist had the opportunity to work with Mark Richardson and electrify her music a bit that she was able to activate the genre she is truly passionate about. Teaming up with Richardson and Scott Rosenthal, Harper made the transformation to Class Actress, a play on her earlier dabbling with acting and drama classes, and Journal of Ardency came to fruition.
On his fledgling label, Terrible Records, Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor, no stranger to cultivating Brooklyn talent like Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, has released the debut EP produced by Violens’ Jorge Elbrecht and Harper’s bandmates Scott Rosenthal and Mark Richardson. Journal of Ardency has every element of 80s pop that you could ever hope for: synthesizers, keyboards, handclaps, atmosphere, and even stalker pop references. On it, you’ll hear direct influences from early Madonna and Some Great Reward-era Depeche Mode.
Harper explains the jump from acoustic guitar to production heavy synth pop as the desire to quit being “sad” and start to dance. The lyrics are more interesting and abstract than the usual electro-pop fare, which seems to set the importance of lyrics on the backburner. It’s apparent that the 80s inspired synth pop is a choice rather than a necessity. Her vocals may be whispy, but the Morrisey-esque “ah ah’s” in “Let Me Take You Out” register a full-bodied tone that indicate a vocal iceberg. She obviously has more to offer than what she’s giving us right now.
“Let Me Take You Out” stands out as the most proactive song on the album, both in lyrics and in driving pop melody. It opens with guitar licks that frolic around the tripleted drum beats. Harper’s vocals are feathery and lilting as she croons about wanting to take out someone who may not even know she’s thinking about them. At just a little over three minutes, the song just barely gives you an iota of insight into the dreamland she conceives. While the tune is consistently driving, it fades out right when the party gets going. Perhaps she’s merely adding to the brilliance of the EP by leaving listeners at the end of each track craving for something more. After all, the EP is, as Harper explains, merely a jumping off point and a sample for what the upcoming full-length has in store.
Class Actress is currently on tour with Little Boots, and Seattle listeners have the opportunity to catch her at Neumo’s on March 6. From here, she makes her way down the West Coast and splits off to head to Austin for several appearances at South by Southwest. Tour dates are posted on Class Actress’ Myspace page.
In case you were wondering what an acoustic version of this tune might sound like, Harper demonstrates here: