In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, like the sheep we are, we’re picking songs by the first bands we loved because a significant other loved them.
I’ve told this story elsewhere on the site, but as an overly serious young man with a byline in the college newspaper and iron-clad opinions (For example: “Arrested Development is a funny TV show!”), I refused to indulge in any Christmas-related entertainment until the day after Thanksgiving. What a barrel of laughs that guy was—and yet that didn’t keep my future wife from wanting to get coffee with him one early November evening. She brought with her three unlabeled CD-Rs, two of which contained the collected works of Architecture In Helsinki and Metric (neither of which I’d heard in the fall of 2006), and one of which contained a playlist of Christmas music. She was, and continues to be, a genius.
Later in the night, we got into my car, and she asked me to choose one of the discs as driving music. I wound up picking the Christmas mix. In a single imaginative gesture, she burst one of the many pompous bubbles I’d insulated myself with, a pattern that continues to this day. That night we kissed—a pattern that also continues to this day.
Less distinct is my memory of listening to the Architecture In Helsinki CD for the first time. Not because the first initial listen was forgettable: The band was a constant presence during the relationship’s early months, so any specific experiences with its music have long since bled together in my mind. And when it comes to soundtracking young, giddy love, it’s hard to top a song like “What’s In Store?”, the very title of which captures the unwritten thrills of a new romance. The song keeps itself open to all possibilities, rising from a cathedral-sized organ intro to charge through classic-rock guitar heroics and a ska-like horn breakdown. And since the main horn melody is more or less lifted from the Christmas carol “Ding Dong Merrily On High,” it’s like I get to relive that first date every time I listen to “What’s In Store?”