Monday, September 16, 2013

A Guided Tour of No Code: I'm Open

If mankind represents a cynical dead end (why bother caring), I’m Open is a reprise of the deep, raw longing that lies beneath most of the songs on this record, closer to the surface some places, hidden others, but always present. No answers here, but we do have a palpable need for them, and a willingness to make yourself open to them, to strip yourself of your past regrets, the surrounding bullshit, the past you carry, and actually seek them out.

Musically I’m Open creates the same hazy dream space as Present Tense and Sometimes, although this feels a bit darker and heavier, beautiful, but with something stifling underneath it that needs to be let go. Songs like Sometimes, Present Tense, and Who You Are are clearly further along the road to self-discovery, have uncovered more of the code, than has happened here. Having said that, the music does lighten during the chorus (during the ‘come in’s’, especially, where the music slowly, gently ascends ), as if the healing has begun. 

Eddie’s voice has its customary deep richness, but spoken word is rarely when he is at his best--the music in his voice is diminished. It’s too bad, as it results in a deeply personal song losing some of its intimacy, and comes across as a bit heavy handed (especially given the I AM NOW THINKING BIG THOUGHTS feel to the music, which lacks the subtlety of other songs on the record). it also draws extra attention to the lyrics, which may be the point.

Lyrically there are some nice moments here, but it does border on overwrought at times. They address a deep disenchantment with the world, the replacement of magic for fact, a world where everything is what it is, and we are bound to what it’s in front of us. You can’t dream in a world like that, let alone move beyond it. The singer feels trapped, innocence long abandoned (a call back to In My Tree). 

However, through nothing more than force of will, a willingness to open up (open up to what we don’t quite find out yet) and let go, the singer prepares himself to reenchant his world, to look for places to let the magic back in. What he imagines we don’t discover in the song, although we’ve been offered glimpses throughout the album. We may get the clearest picture in Around the Bend .

I'm Open
Around the Bend

No Code 
Riot Act 
Pearl Jam