On the shortlist of Prettiest Song Ever Recorded, Indie Pop division, “Pig Latin” is one of a few excellent songs on Imperial Teen’s amazing 1996 debut, Seasick.
Founded by Faith No More’s keyboardist, Roddy Bottum, along with Will Schwartz, Jone Stebbens and Lynn Perko, Imperial Teen’s half-boy, half-girl, half-gay, half-straight multi-instrumentalist lineup resulted in music that was utterly unique.
While writing completely candy-pop melodies, Imperial Teen were the one of the first — and one of the few — bands to leverage the offbeat pop song structures that The Breeders had pioneered with Last Splash.
So that means that “Pig Latin” starts with a single guitar playing a single note as the rest of the band slowly works their way in, until Schwartz starts addressing his latest boyfriend:
I don’t mind looking at you
Your hair sticks straight up well
The spray can is my favorite
Vonnegut to william hell
I don’t want to be happy
I wanna mess around
But these drugs have made me sappy
I do love feeling down
“Pig Latin” perfectly captures that first flush of love, when you’ve been out all night driving around and hanging out and talking and even when the night is over and the next day begins you can’t bare to be separated.
Let’s stop and order pancakes
I don’t mind sitting down
If i can’t take it to yesterday
It’s a new day all confound
In 1996, the detail in “Let’s stop and order pancakes” utterly floored me, because it instantly took me back to those all-nighters where last thing before bed was a short stack at IHOP. It also didn’t hurt that Schwartz is so open and so vulnerable-sounding throughout.
And with one guitar stabbing in the left speaker and the other churning churning in the right speaker, Schwartz and Bottum harmonize off an on throughout until there’s nothing left to say but:
You’re the only…
You’re the only one
And as those gorgeous harmonies modulate, and then modulate again, “Pig Latin” reveals itself to be one of the finest and purest love songs ever written.
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