tremble clef

Monday, October 01, 2007

Freezepop, "Thought Balloon" (2007)

In some ways, songs about being tongue-tied or struck dumb in front of a crush carry an extra burden to be articulate. The more the song can precisely and lovingly describe the condition, the more we understand how silly it is that our narrator, so bright and well-spoken within the song, can't muster up the words without.

Freezepop's gorgeous ballad about the affliction doesn't necessarily strive to be "articulate" per se, but it finds a point of focus that is wonderfully human and relatable: the cartoon figure of the thought balloon. It's "such a pretty thing/A white balloon on a string/It floats above my head/Filled with stuff I should have said." It is subject to a kind of gravity. "Thoughts can weigh me down/My balloon dips closer to the ground/I'm hoping that you catch my drift/Give my balloon a little lift."

Near the end of the song, our narrator resolves to speak her mind. "I've been quiet for too long/And I'm gonna take the dare/Find a way to let you know, la la la la/Time to let my secrets go, la la la la/I'll pull the words out of thin air." And so she decides to set the balloon free, a gesture that feels as sweet and wondrous as when Nena let go of hers, though this time round we're not even dealing with nuclear holocaust. (Not literally, anyway.) "I'll set it free, my thought balloon/And lead you here to me/And finally I'll have my say/And then my thought balloon can float away."

And yet the triumphant moment makes me sad. Maybe, in the course of the song's three-plus minutes, I'd grown accustomed to, and even fond of, that white balloon. Maybe it's because of the melancholic feel of the song, built as it is on a mellow, quivering synth line (that places it in the tradition of, say, "Rent"). Or maybe, having struggled for the past month with a sorta-friend, to whom I want to say so much and yet cannot, I find myself understanding that some balloons must by necessity always remain attached to us, and us to them.


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